Residents near Withlacoochee, Suwannee rivers warned of pollution

Published: Monday, March 4, 2013 at 11:52 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, March 4, 2013 at 11:52 a.m.

State officials on Monday warned residents of several North Florida counties about possible contamination of the Withlacoochee and Suwannee rivers because of a water pollution problem in Georgia.

The Withlacoochee Water Pollution Control Plant in Valdosta, Ga., has overflowed into the Withlacoochee River, which flows south and connects with the Suwannee River.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection will collect water samples from the area and the test results will be available within the next week.

Until then, the Florida Department of Health cautions people to avoid contact with those rivers. This includes people in the counties of Dixie, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Lafayette, Levy, Madison, and Suwannee.

Water contaminated by wastewater overflow may contain untreated human sewage with microbes that could cause gastro-intestinal and other diseases.

If you have been in contact with the river water, health officials urge you to wash your hands thoroughly before eating or drinking. Children and elderly as well as people with depressed immune systems are particularly vulnerable to disease so every precaution should be taken to avoid the river water.

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