The Florida Department of Health (DOH) today issued an advisory to residents in counties surrounding the Withlacoochee and Suwannee rivers. The City of Valdosta has reported a spill, made up of a combination of storm water and partially treated sewage, that has overflowed into the Withlacoochee River. The Withlacoochee flows south and connects with the Suwannee River.
Until further information is known regarding possible contamination of the rivers, residents are urged to take precautions when in contact with the Withlacoochee and Suwannee rivers. This includes those individuals in the counties of Hamilton, Madison and Suwannee.
Water contaminated by wastewater overflow presents several health hazards to humans and may contain untreated human sewage with microbes that could cause gastro-intestinal and other diseases.
Anyone who comes in contact with the river water should wash thoroughly, especially before eating or drinking. Children and older adults, as well as people with weakened immune systems, are particularly vulnerable to disease so every precaution should be taken if in contact with the river water.
For more information about the potential health effects of wastewater overflow, Floridians are encouraged to contact their local county health department. To find contact information for your county health department, please visit http://www.floridahealth.gov/.