Our Water: concerns rise in Texas over bacteria in rivers


Cases in central Texas and several states

SAN ANGELO, TX – Cases of severe skin reactions in rivers and at beaches across the county may have you wondering what’s going on.

“In the summer months and the warmer water,” explained Upper Colorado River Authority Director of Operations Chuck Brown, “the fecal coliform bacteria, the e. Coli the subgroup that we test for, has the ability to readily thrive in warmer conditions.”

The cases from various swimming holes in Liberty Hill and Georgetown, as well as the San Gabriel River have people concerned about bacteria. Additional cases have been reported in Minnesota, Virginia and Alabama.

Those choosing to cool off this summer need to know some early signs and a few preventative measures. “This is usually a bacterial phenomenon when we’re talking about wounds and infections,” said Dr. Coburn Allen, an infectious diseases and emergency physician at Dell Children’s Medical Center. “It will typically cause what we would expect with any other skin infection; redness, swelling, warps and drainage. So either an abnormal healing of a wound or a slow healing / draining process are both things that trigger concern.”

Speaking about prevention Dr Allen, who is also on the staff of Dell Medial School at UT Austin, spokle about utilizing waterproof bandages, and cleaning wounds with water and soap as opposed to hydrogen peroxide and other harsh agents.

While e. Coli can be generated by people, livestock and wildlife, a top concern is necrotizing fasciitis, the flesh-eating bacteria. However, local officials say regular testing of the Concho River and other bodies of water nearby have not revealed anything of concern.

Regarding the reports of issues in central Texas, reports aimed at triggering an investigation have slowly begun to trickle in. The agencies most likely to assess any major issues include the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, local and county health departments and the Texas Department of State Health Services.

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San Angelo is in standard conservation, which restricts outside watering to twice every seven days at no more than 1 inch per week. Watering is prohibited between noon and 6:00 p.m., but runoff of more than 150 feet down any street, gutter, alley or ditch is prohibited.

Report watering violations by clicking on https://www.cosatx.us/departments-services/water-conservation/report-a-water-violation or calling 325-657-4409. Do your part; be water smart!