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Public Urged To Steer Clear Of L.A. River Due To High Levels Of Bacteria

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(Photo by Archie Tucker via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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The L.A. River currently has the highest level of bacteria the river has seen since Heal the Bay began monitoring river sites in 2015, leading to a recommendation that the public avoid the water until the bacteria levels lower to safe number. The high influx of bacteria, likely due to "poor upstream water quality," can increase risk of ear infections as well as respiratory and gastrointestinal illnesses for people who come in contact with the water, according to Heal the Bay.

Scientists with Heal the Bay took samples from the Sepulveda Basin on September 6, and they demonstrated levels of bacteria "well over accepted regulatory and health limits." Samples from Elysian Valley on September 1 and September 4 also demonstrated high levels of bacteria. The annual L.A. River Boat Race is scheduled for Saturday, adding a particular level of urgency to the state of the river quality. The race is planned for the Glendale Narrows section of the river, and dozens of kayakers are expected, according to City News Service.

Kayak season on the L.A. River encourages the general public to get to know the river and build a relationship with L.A.'s historic waterway. Approximately 6,000 people use the recreation zones every summer, which includes the 2.5 mile section in Elysian Valley and the 2 mile section in the Sepulveda Basin. In order to encourage safe interaction with the water, Heal the Bay publishes their river data via the River Report Card, which they implemented this summer. Currently, the organization's River Report Card is the only way for the general public to access bacteria levels. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health publishes similar information for beaches, but doesn't disseminate bacteria warnings for the L.A. River.

The nonprofit plans to post updated river bacteria levels via Twitter and Facebook on Sunday.