COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - The common misconception around Columbus is that the water in the Chattahoochee River is contaminated with E. coli. Water officials in Columbus say that might be the case in Atlanta but once it reaches here it is fairly clean.
"Seven years ago coming out here you wouldn't want to get close to the water, it was green, it was disgusting there was no wildlife you wouldn't even see turtles swimming around in it," says WhiteWater Express' Bailey Counts.
Fast forward to today.
"Now since they demo'd the two dams and brought the flow back it's been a lot cleaner," says Counts.
Bailey Counts has lived in Columbus all of his life and spends many of his days on the river. He says the water is the cleanest this summer it's been in years.
"It's actually been tested it's one level above drinking water," he says.
"We test the water in the downtown area in the white water rapids area," Vic Burchfield with Columbus Water Works says his company tests the water in the Chattahoochee Valley three times a week.
"Currently those levels are well within the safe levels for recreational use," says Burchfield.
He says even though E. coli may register at unsafe levels in Atlanta it goes through a filtration process before reaching the Chattahoochee Valley.
"We are fortunate in Columbus we have several reservoirs between Atlanta and Columbus," says Burchfield.
"Its said that up in Atlanta up in Atlanta it's dirty in Atalanta but the other dams further up filter that out it's very clean right here you'll actually see some people out here drinking the water," says Counts.
Officials say rainfall can wash trash and animal waste into the river causing bacteria levels to rise and this is something to take into consideration when deciding whether or not to take a dip.