Officials test Chattahoochee for bacteria

Officials test Chattahoochee for bacteria

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Claims of illegal Phenix City pipes dumping raw sewage into the Chattahoochee river has created quite the buzz, and we have new information about how clean the water is.

Phenix City administrators believe former employees made over-flow pipes as a shortcut to battling sewage issues. Greg Glass, the former utilities director, reached out to us Wednesday, and denies the accusations.

However, for many, the biggest question isn't who's to blame, but how clean is the water now?

From the looks of it, activities on the hooch aren't slowing down, despite the troubling news that Phenix City administrators discovered illegal pipes. These pipes have possibly been pumping raw sewage into the water way for years.

"It's really unsettling because there's not that much that's left here," said river front visitor Dione Ansah. 

Ansah says she and her family like to come to the river front and dip their toes in. Others have no reservations about going further, and water testing from this week shows they are right to not be afraid.

"20 years ago I wouldn't have swam in it, but that river is clean now and we monitor it hourly," said Stephen Smith, Phenix City Financial Director.

Phenix City administrators say they monitor water quality regularly, and folks across the river do the same. Columbus Water Works technicians say they test water quality three times a week for E.Coli and fecal matter.

They explained that there is always bacteria naturally present in bodies of water, and to the best of their memory, they cannot recall a time when water from the Chattahoochee reached unsafe levels.

E. Coli presence must stay below 126 colonies per 100 milliliters, and fecal matter must remain under 200 colonies per 100 milliliters. Water Works officials say the Chattahoochee consistently remains at swim-able, boat-able, and enjoyable levels.

"Knowing that they test, it really helps and gives us more security as we are out here enjoying the beauty of the day," said Ansah.

Greg Glass, former Phenix City utilities director, in response to accusations tells us pipes that allegedly polluted the Chattahoochee were not installed under his administration, making the time-line or extent of pollution even murkier.

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