Independent Group Finds E. Coli In Florala's Lake Jackson

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By Amanda Wade

A private environmental group says water samples from Lake Jackson in Florala have alarming results when it comes to one potentially deadly bacteria.

A member of the Waterkeeper Alliance says his tests show high levels of E. Coli in Florala's Lake Jackson; nearly 10 times the limit set by the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Michael Mullen, a member Waterkeeper Alliance, says he collected three water samples from Lake Jackson on Sunday. He says one sample taken near the eastern side of the pier shows higher than normal presence of E.Coli bacteria.

He says the other two samples came in under the limit, "It could have been a child that isn't potty trained not wearing the rubber pants that children that age ought to wear when they're swimming. It could have been somebody throwing out a baby diaper. It could be water fowl. I don't know enough about the area, but it could possibly be a small sewer leak."

Mullen says this is the first time a sample has been collected that tested over the E.Coli limit.

Officials with the Alabama Department of Environmental Management say the independent field samples are not done by the state, and are not as accurate as state lab testing. Those officials say they are unsure when the state last tested Lake Jackson, but will take the independent results into consideration for  further testing needs.
 
Doctors, like Jefferson Underwood, say you can not see signs of E. Coli in bodies of water, "When you go to a lake, when you go to a swimming pool, you have to assume that you are being exposed to all types of bacteria and viruses. People who have compromised immune systems need to take special precautions when they go swim."
 
Because the state did not perform the tests, the Florala State Park Manager says he is not required to put up signs or notify visitors of the results.
 
Mullen says he believes that the water will be back to normal levels within a week, but it will take additional testing to determine whether this is a one time occurance or a continuous source of contamination.

Florala State Park is still opened to the public and there are no restrictions on swimming in the lake.


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