E. coli levels in American River exceed federal levels, portion of waterway placed on federal list

How safe is the American River after E. coli found?

Joe Aiesi loves to fish at Sacramento's popular Discovery Park.

“I have concerns because I have kids," says Aiesi.

But when informed about high levels of E. coli in the water, he’s now worried.

“I’m kind of debating even fishing here. I got another spot," says Aiesi.

Various locations in the American River were tested between Discovery Park and Nimbus Damn.

Between 2007 and last year, levels for E. coli exceeded six times the recommended federal level at the confluence of the American and Sacramento rivers as an example.

“Certainly, it’s an indicator of increased risks," says Adam Laputz, assistant executive officer with the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board.

He says the source of the E. coli could be several possibilities.

“High concentration of birds, high concentration of animals. Somehow if there is some type of human waste to get in the water.”

One possibility considered for the increased levels, homeless encampments along the river.

The E. coli is high enough to be placed on the federal government’s “List of Impaired Waterways.”

That means further genetic testing will be done in the next year or two to find the cause of higher E. coli levels.

Even so, its not stopping those from enjoying the river on a hot day.

“It concerns me but I want to go deep in and out, not stay in there,” says Salvador Sanchez at Discovery Park.

“I don’t have a pool here so I swim here," says Elisia Pereziko, swimming at Discovery Park.

So are you safe to go in?

Sacramento County Department of Public Health says its always an inherent risk for people or animals to enter an open waterway. If you do, don’t swallow the water and shower after swimming.

They add no one has reported sick from the water and no outbreak declared.

Bottom line right now, use your own judgment and be smart.

As for fisherman Joe, anything fishy, is not safe for him.

“On eating the fish now, I don’t know now," says Aiesi.

© 2017 KXTV-TV


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