Stanislaus County: Bacteria at Woodward “significantly down” since Memorial Day

06/19/2014 5:33 PM

06/19/2014 6:07 PM

After conducting additional water testing at Woodward Reservoir in response to reports that swimmers became ill at the park near Oakdale, Stanislaus County officials on Thursday issued a “final update on the situation.”

The Stanislaus report, from Jami Aggers, director of parks and recreation for Stanislaus County, said test results received Thursday of the reservoir water “show the total coliform bacteria count is significantly down since the busy Memorial Day holiday, below the threshold level where we would ordinarily post notices of high bacteria content. E.Coli counts continue to remain low as well in the test results.”

The update also says the San Joaquin Department of Public Health was unable to determine the source of the campylobacter infection of a Stockton man who was hospital for several days with diarrhea, vomiting and high fever after a family outing to the reservoir June 7. “This is not surprising, as it is sometimes difficult to isolate the source,” the Stanislaus update said.

The county did have signs up warning visitors that bacteria in the water is unusually high and to “swim at your own risk.” Because bacteria was high, but not at a level to merit closing the lake, “courtesy notices were posted in various places to let people know,” the county update says. “Those notices were not legally required and were done as a service to our customers.”

Aggers said information on water quality at Woodward is being given to visitors at the park entrance, explaining that swimming in lakes and rivers is much different than swimming in a chlorinated pool. “Lakes, rivers and canals are not self-contained, filtered and chemically treated like a swimming pool,” the county update says. “The benefit in swimming in natural bodies of water is being out in the beauty of nature; but, you are also swimming in what nature puts into the water from human and animal sources.

“Because the water is not filtered and chemically treated, some people with sensitivities might have skin reactions, such as rashes, when they expose their skin to untreated water. Also, because naturally occurring bacteria exist, there is always the chance of becoming ill as a result of ingesting the water.”

The South San Joaquin Irrigation District filled Woodward for only a shortened recreation season because of the drought. Stanislaus County expects to offer water recreation there for time time beyond the Fourth of July weekend.

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