Swimming advisory issued for parts of Congaree, Saluda Rivers

Higher levels of bacteria spotted in water after heavy rain earlier this week

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) —If you’re going for a swim in some rivers in the Midlands this week, you could be at a greater risk of getting sick.

The Midlands River Coalition issued a Swimming Advisory for certain parts of the Saluda and Congaree Rivers.

Just a few days after heavy rain hit the Midlands, the Midlands Rivers Coalition noticed higher levels of bacteria floating in the water during their weekly testing. 

“When it rains, all that stuff that’s sitting on our roads, our sidewalks, parking lots, and yards and things, it all washes into storm drains that go into our creeks and rivers, and so that picks up bacteria and pollutants, and flushes it into the river,” said Bill Stangler, the Congaree Riverkeeper. 

The Coalition issued a Swimming Advisory for the Congaree and Saluda Rivers, spanning from the lower end of Saluda Shoals Park to the Blossom Street Bridge.

“It is not a ‘Don’t Swim’ but there’s a chance you might get sick when you swim, a greater chance. There’s always a risk, but it’s a little higher now,” said Bryan Rabon of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) Bureau of Water.

When a Swimming Advisory is issued, DHEC says people should be aware of all the risks when swimming in the water, but they say some people should be more careful than others.

“That includes kids. Kids when they swim they often keep their mouths open or they’re more likely to ingest water. You’ve also got folks with compromised immune systems, and anyone with an open wound. Those are the folks that should be really careful,” said Stangler.

If people do come in contact with the harmful bacteria, they could develop stomach aches and rashes.

However, if some people want to jump right into the river, some say they should keep some safety tips in mind.

“Make sure you have your wounds covered, and any open sores, make sure those are covered, so don’t allow things to get in that way. Be careful swallowing the water, that’s really the biggest thing we’re trying to protect for is water getting into you and causing you to be sick,” Rabon said.

The Coalition says they collected newer samples of water from the river Thursday morning. Updated results from those tests will be released Friday afternoon.

For more information on what parts of rivers are not the safest to swim in, click here.

Categories: Local News, News