All flood waters carry dangerous levels of bacteria. On Monday, August 30th, FOSCR’s RiverWatch team tested the Santa Cruz River water in 5 places between Ruby Road and Chavez Siding. Results from these tests indicate exceptionally high levels of E.coli and other bacteria. This was not a surprising finding: When it rains, storm water drains off the land into the river, carrying with it the E.coli-laden feces of livestock, pets, and wildlife.
… numbers as high as 200,000 E.coli per 100 mL were reported at 4 of the sites on Monday !!!
E.coli is a rod-shaped bacteria that lives in the gut of animals, including humans, and some strains can cause diarrhea, while other strains can cause respiratory illnesses and even pneumonia. Levels of 200 E.coli per 100 mL of river water are considered to be safe for recreational wading, but numbers as high as 200,000 E.coli per 100 mL were reported at 4 of the sites on Monday.
Once the river has been back to normal flow levels for a few weeks, you’ll be safe again to wade or let your dog splash around in it. Normal E.coli levels for the river in Santa Cruz County are low, thanks to the state-of-the-art wastewater treatment plant in Rio Rico. This last June, for example, levels were well under 100 E.coli per 100 mL.