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High levels of E.Coli found at Geist Reservoir

Posted at 7:58 PM, May 03, 2019

INDIANAPOLIS — RTV6 is following up to a story we first told viewersabout last August. Testing at Geist Reservoir is once again showing high and possibly unsafe levels of E.Coli.

People living nearby are concerned and want the Hamilton County health department to warn the public.

A test sample taken two weeks ago showed unsatisfactory levels of E. coli in the Geist Reservoir. RTV6 asked the county health department at what point should people be worried about this?

On Friday people were already taking their boats out on the water. That traffic will only increase as the weather gets warmer.

"We all love being on the lake. Everyone wants to be out there, using it as much as possible," Christin Schippnick and James Daniels said. "But we want to know that the water quality is safe."

According to a recent test, water sampling at Geist showed 648 colony forming units of E. Coli. EPA guidelines suggest anything higher than 235 is not safe for body contact.

When RTV6 asked Jason Lemaster, Hamilton County Health Department Environmental Health Director if 648 concerns him, he said this:

"648 would tell me that I should wash my hands, take a shower after I recreate in the water."

The Hamilton County Environmental Health Director says many strands of E. Coli bacteria are not harmful to humans. But even so, these neighbors want them to issue a health advisory to inform the public of this.

"A health advisory that includes the facts," John Domokos, "Make Geist Healthy Again" founder, said. "Is readily available and is reference-able by the public before they have contact with the water in the lake."

The department says these new signs they recently posted at the end of last year and into the beginning of this year - at 17 different locations throughout the lake - serve as that warning.

"You take your smartphone, just by lining it up, I get a website," Lemaster said. "And I can go to our county website, and I can view the data for any of the samplings that's occurred out here at this particular site."

They take monthly recreational water samples across the county and post them to their website — this way people can now see those results right from their phone.

We asked Lemaster why the department won't declare a health advisory in this case.

"Because this type of an issue is an ongoing continuous advisory. And that advisory is to be smart, be uniformed, and to be healthy."

Officials say sewage overflow, runoff from fields and farms, animals like geese and deer, can all impact the water quality and vary day to day.

Click here for the water sampling results throughout Hamilton County.