Beach on Russian River remains closed due high bacteria levels in water

- By Bay City News Service

The Monte Rio Beach on the Russian River remains closed today to swimming, wading or water contact because of elevated levels of total coliform and E coli bacteria.

The popular beach was closed Thursday after two rounds of water testing on Monday and Wednesday showed elevated levels of the bacteria.

The Sonoma County Department of Health Services Environmental Health staff posted "warning-closure" signs advising the public not to swim, wade or make contact with the water.

Total coliform on Monday was 10,462 organisms per 100 ml and 41 organisms of E coli per 100 ml.

State guidelines and Department of Health Services protocol specify any level above 10,000 organisms per 100 ml for total coliform or 235 organisms per 100 ml for E coli require postings warning signs.

On Wednesday total coliform was 11,999 and E coli was 833.

Samples collected Thursday and analyzed today showed total coliform was 10,462 organisms per 100 ml, the same as Monday's test, and E coli was 110 organisms per 100 ml.

Coliform are bacteria that live in the intestinal tracts of humans and other warm-blooded animals. Their presence indicates possible contamination of water by fecal waste, the Department of Health Service said.

Some coliform bacteria are pathogens at certain levels can sicken swimmers and others who use the river.

Beaches along the Russian River were crowded with attendees of several events, including fireworks since Saturday.

The adverse readings coincide today with temperatures predicted to hit nearly 100 degrees in parts of Sonoma County.

In addition to the prohibition against swimming, the DHS advises people and pets to not drink or wash with river water or use it to cook or wash dishes.

More information about the status of water along the Russian River's beaches is available via a recorded hotline at (707) 565-6552 or on the DHS website at http://sonomacounty.ca.gov/Health/Environmental-Health/Water-Quality/Fresh-Water-Quality/.

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