Residents can gain easy access to weekly water quality reports on the county's creeks through a county Health Department telephone service.
The service, established last year, was reactivated May 25. It provides residents with the number of fecal coliforms measured in specific creeks. The information is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at 222-7999.
Fecal coliform is a bacteria found in the intestines of all warm-blooded animals. Because of its prevalence and because it is easy to detect, it is used as one measure of water quality.
However, since there are many kinds of bacteria and viruses, fecal coliform count is not an exact predictor of health risks.
The service will note the emergency closing of any creeks or portions of creeks and the average weekly results for 66 test stations routinely sampled for fecal coliform.
The recorded information line will give additional phone numbers from which residents can receive more information or report water quality problems.
The Health Department issues advisories closing creeks to recreational contact when a sewage spill, leak or other problem indicates that human waste has gotten into the water.
If the Health Department can identify the source and attributes a continued high fecal count to human waste, it can require that corrective action be taken.
Health officials recommend that swimmers in county waters use common sense. Avoid swimming with cuts and scrapes that make it easy for disease-causing bacteria to enter the body. Also, avoid swimming for 48 hours after a heavy rainfall.