High E.Coli levels at Flat Branch Creek

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COLUMBIA - Despite the warning signs, visitors at Flat Branch Park were unaware of the high levels of E. Coli in nearby Flat Branch Creek. The most recent water tests done Tuesday by the Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services show that the amount of contamination is more than four times the standard.

The Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) recommended limit for bacterial pollution is 235 colonies per 100 milliliters for readings from a single test. On June 5, Flat Branch Park Creek tested at 1,119.9 colonies per 100 milliliters.

Flat Branch Creek is an urban stream, with run-off from downtown Columbia, which heightens the likelihood for high bacteria levels. According to the EPA, all other waters tested in Columbia meet the standard and are safe for recreational purposes.

Visitors said the city needs to provide more information on the risks and that the signs are not enough of a warning. Health officials put signs up when E. Coli levels reach more than three times the EPA's recommended levels. The signs warn against swimming or playing in the water. However, the sprinklers at Stephen's Lake Park are not affected because they do not use creek water. 

"Well they should get more information and find out what the affects are, mainly what the cause is. If it's man made pollution, find out more about it and educate people about it," visitor Barbara Hawley said.

The bacteria is most harmful for those with weakened immune systems such as children and the elderly.

"I mean if it was harmful I wouldn't be interested in coming but I wouldn't just take that without finding out more," Hawley said.

Other visitors who said they don't want their kids at a park with such a high risks and the city should take care of this contamination.