Buck Creek deemed virtually E. Coli free after latest water samples

The latest water samples taken from Buck Creek show no sign of E. Coli bacteria. (File)

The latest water samples taken from Buck Creek show no signs of E. Coli bacteria. (File)

By GRAHAM BROOKS / Staff Writer

HELENA–Helena residents and visitors can now take comfort in the fact that the latest water samples taken of Buck Creek have shown that the water is clean and almost entirely free of any E. Coli bacteria.

A water sample taken about a month ago near the Buck Creek dam showed high levels of E. Coli and Helena residents became concerned about their health and the safety of the water.

Cahaba Riverkeeper Board Member David Butler and a few volunteers have spent the past few weeks trying to find the source of the E. Coli outbreak and have made plans to sample areas starting at the dam and moving backwards all the way to Oak Mountain State Park in the coming weeks.

A high volume of E. Coli was found in a Caldwell Mill Road sample and now Butler and the team will continue to look for those high volume areas in the coming weeks.

“People were concerned that people in Helena were polluting the river and last week we went and checked it out,” said Butler. “There was some unusual mucky algae growing there and we had people come in and clean it out. What we’re doing now is trying to hone in on where the bacteria is coming from. We will go up 119 where people raise horses and chickens along the creek and that’s one place it could come from because after heavy rain natural fecal matter can come in.”

Although the Buck Creek water sample is currently clean, Butler warns that after heavy rain, the water sample can change quickly and E. Coli can be found.

“Even when we sample the water on Wednesday we don’t get the results until Friday and it’s definitely a possibility it could change after rain,” said Butler. “We are testing just to give people a guide of where it’s safe to swim. I think Buck Creek is one of those places where you have to be careful after heavy rain and another thing to note is that the samples we take are not real time. We have to wait 36 hours on the results.”

The Cahaba Riverkeeper publishes a swim guide about eight different sites on the Cahaba River about water quality on a weekly basis. The guide will be published through August.

To view the guide and latest updates on water samples, visit the Cahaba Riverkeeper’s Facebook page at Facebook.com/pages/Cahaba-Riverkeeper/111589530801?fref=ts.