UPDATE: Butler County health department tells residents to not enter, fish in Great Miami River E.coli discharge

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

The rivers in the Miami Valley causing roads to flood, including the Great Miami and Stillwater shown here.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

UPDATED @ 4:23 p.m. 

The Butler County General Health District told residents they should not enter or fish in the Great Miami River after an E.coli release from a Middletown wastewater treatment plant contaminated the river.

On Wednesday, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency issued an advisory to treatment plants of the sudden elevation of the bacteria in the waste from the Middletown Water Reclamation Plant.

Middletown officials said the issue has been corrected. E.coli levels were back to normal Thursday morning, said city spokeswoman Elizabeth Beadle. She said the city notified the regional health districts “as a precautionary measure due to the possible impact on recreational river activities downstream of the Water Reclamation Plant (south of Ohio 73 bridge over the Great Miami River) in Butler County. The temporary spike is being investigated, including checking local industries for possible illicit discharges.”

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The Butler County General Health District and the city of Hamilton Health Department are advising people to not enter or fish in the Great Miami River downstream of Oxford State Road. A statement will be issued when the advisory is lifted, they said.

“There are increased health risks associated with coming into contact with wastewater,” according to a joint statement. “Parasites, viruses and bacteria can cause a range of conditions including diarrhea, dysentery, gastroenteritis and hepatitis A.”

The health districts are advising people to seek medical care if they experience bloody diarrhea or if their diarrhea isn’t improving after three days; diarrhea is accompanied by fever or chills; or they are dehydrated.

“But some strains can cause diarrhea if you eat contaminated food or drink fouled water,” according to the website.

The waste issue, which was on Oxford State Road, has been contained, was noticed as city employees test the water leaving the plant headed toward the river, Beadle said.

“That’s when they noticed the spike,” she said. “(The effluent discharge is) at normal levels now.”

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The city’s drinking water was never impacted by the E.coli discharge because it was contained to the river, but it will impact downstream communities along the river.

The issue was reported to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, and that agency notified river communities.

“Middletown officials have notified Ohio EPA that they are having issues with high E.coli levels in the effluent from the city’s wastewater treatment plant,” said Ohio EPA spokeswoman Dina Pierce. “The city is working to identify the cause and resolve the issue. Ohio EPA has offered technical assistance and instructed the city to notify local health departments. Additionally, Ohio EPA drinking water staff has notified downstream drinking water systems along the river.”

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