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The BacteriAlert program is a public-private partnership whose goal is to collect water samples at two locations, Medlock Bridge and Paces Ferry, to help assess how safe the water in the Chattahoochee River is for swimming, wading and boating.

Results are posted on the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) BacteriAlert webpage within 24 hours of data collection. The website also provides current predictions of E. coli bacteria levels, which are derived from a correlation formula developed to predict E. coli bacteria levels in the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area (CRNRA) based on real-time turbidity conditions.

In 2016, a federal grant was awarded to expand the BacteriALERT program to a third station at Powers Ferry. CRK is collecting weekly samples from this station and the USGS will use the data to create a model to predict presumptive E. coli levels in real-time. The predicted levels will be online once enough data is available to build the model. In addition, the grant is funding a DNA study which is underway to identify the different animal/human sources of E. coli present in the CRNRA.

The CRNRA, a 48-mile river park between Buford Dam and Peachtree Creek, attracts more than 3 million visitors, of which nearly 30 percent participate in water-based recreation.

The BacteriAlert Program was initiated within the CRNRA in 2000. Partners include the National Park Service (NPS), USGS, and CRK. Funders include Cobb County and the city of Atlanta.

USGS website

For more information, see USGS website.

USGS website

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The river, especially around the CRNRA, is usually clean and safe for swimming, boating, fishing, and other forms of water contact.

The exception is during and after heavy rains. Bacteria levels usually spike during heavy rain events as pollutants are washed into the river from impervious surfaces and the sewer infrastructure in our urban environment; and bacteria levels typically retreat after the rains subside.

During these times, we recommend that you minimize your exposure to the water

The exception is during and after heavy rains. Bacteria levels usually spike during heavy rain events as pollutants are washed into the river from impervious surfaces and the sewer infrastructure in our urban environment; and bacteria levels typically retreat after the rains subside.

During these times, we recommend that you minimize your exposure to the wate

CRK uses quality data to determine if the water is safe for contact. In addition to our weekly samples gather through our Neighborhood Water Watch (NWW) Program, CRK collaborates with the National Park Service and the USGS to collect samples at two locations in the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. You can view the real-time data here: http://ga2.er.usgs.gov/bacteria/.

In regards to lake environments: Lakes are less susceptible than rivers and streams to the high bacteria concentrations found after heavy rains because they have less ideal conditions for bacterial survival. That being said, when the water is cloudy because sediment and contaminants are being swept into the waterway from heavy rains via tributaries to the lake, it is best to wait until the water returns to its dry weather conditions before returning to recreational water activities.

This program is supported by…