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Don't dive in
Water pollution issues keep swimmers out of rivers
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Nothing is better than a quick plunge into chilling waters during one of the summers seemingly countless unbearably hot days.

For years local residents have looked for summer’s refuge in the South River, which comes through the county from DeKalb County in metro Atlanta and ends at Lake Jackson.

There are several spots such as Oglesby Bridge where students and young people enjoy their time off from school with a swim in the Rockdale waterway, but those spots have come under fire when it was recently asked if it was safe to swim in.

There are no restrictions forbidding the use of the South River for recreation in Rockdale County, but not is so just upstream in DeKalb County.

On July 26, DeKalb planted No Swimming signs along the South River sighting health reasons, and since then the river has been under scrutiny.

Rockdale’s portion of the river comes downstream of the No Swimming sign and also downstream of Dekalb’s watershed’s plants.

According to the watershed, however, the affluent coming out of the plant should not be swimmer’s biggest concern.

“There are certain levels of pollution in any urban stream, and the South River just as an urban stream ahas a certain level of pollution in it,” said Jo Ann Macrina, Deputy Director of Watershed Protection and Storm Water for Dekalb County. “Typically our affluent water quality is often better than the water quality of the South River.”

According to numbers provided by DeKalb County’s watershed, a station on the South River upstream from the plant had at least three more milligrams per liter of suspended solids than that coming out of the plant in July.

On the week of July 4 there was 2 milligrams per liter of suspended solids coming out of the Pole Bridge plant and just one milligram on the week of July 11. The numbers were well below the permitted limit of 30 milligrams per liter.

“What we do is test what is coming out of our advance wastewater treatment plants and make sure we’re in those regulatory standards and we also have to test down stream of our plants to make sure we’re not adversely impacting the water quality of the stream, Macrina”

Although the numbers show that the river downstream of the watershed is cleaner, it is still advised throughout the waterway to take health precautions.

“Just as a precautionary measure, the watershed management would suggest and advise people not to swim,” Macrina said.