Flat Branch Creek Tests Positive for High Bacteria Levels
COLUMBIA - People arriving at Flat Branch Park Wednesday for the city's FunFest will find signs warning them to stay out of the creek there. The Columbia Health Department has put up the signs discouraging visitors from playing and swimming in the creek due to high levels of bacteria.
City Environmental Health Specialist Craig Sullivan tests the water in the creek once a week. For the past three weeks, Flat Branch Creek has returned bacteria levels above 126 e.coli per 100 milliliters of water. Sullivan said when a body of water tests high three times he puts up signs to warn the public, just like the one that has been drawing attention in Flat branch Park this past week.
According to Public Information Specialist Geni Alexander, high bacteria levels in Flat Branch Creek are nothing new. She said the creek tends to have higher bacteria levels, due mostly to its urban location.
"Flat Branch Creek is an urban stream, so it's going to have increased bacteria levels from the rundown from downtown Columbia," said Alexander.
Alexander added that parents should not fear letting their children pay in the parks fountains. The creek and the park's water fountains are not connected.
Alexander said people should only get sick if they actually swim in the creek. She said she does not think the high bacteria levels are a big deal, especially since very few people swim in the creek. Most people in the park Wednesday did not even notice the sign, and most parents said they would not let their children swim in the creek anyway.