By Robert Tomlinson
THREE RIVERS — It is now safe to do recreational activities in the St. Joseph River.
The Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Community Health Agency (BHSJ) on Tuesday lifted the no-contact advisory issued on July 10 for the St. Joseph River between the Broadway Street bridge and the village of Constantine.
BHSJ officials said in a release that water samples collected by the Three Rivers Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) on Friday, July 14 and Monday, July 17, which were reported to the health department on July 15 and 18, showed that the water in the river “now contains levels of fecal coliform generally expected to be present.”
The no-contact order was issued on July 10 following a force main break that spilled approximately 500,000 gallons of untreated wastewater from the Three Rivers Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) into the river. The break occurred Friday, July 7 at approximately 9:30 p.m. at the Constantine Street Lift Station, at the intersection of Constantine Street and Broadway Street at the construction site of a new pump station near the St. Joseph River.
The timing of the no-contact order was scrutinized by residents due to it occurring two days after the spill occurred, with the delay attributed to communication errors between the WWTP and the health department.
Coliform, the health department said in its release, is a naturally occurring bacteria that is found in all bodies of surface water. People can prevent illness from exposure to coliform by bathing and washing all clothing that touched the water when activities are complete for the day, as well as avoiding ingestion of the water from lakes, ponds, rivers and streams.
Individuals who develop symptoms of upset stomach, vomiting, diarrhea, or fever are asked to contact a health care provider or local urgent care.
Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 or firstname.lastname@example.org.