Canadian River causes health worries

Wednesday, July 2nd 2008, 7:09 pm
By: News 9

By Gan Matthews, NEWS 9

NORMAN, Okla -- This weekend thousands of Oklahomans will be heading to state parks and lakes, and some will be spending their time along some of various rivers and streams in Oklahoma.

The Canadian River remains a popular recreation spot for some in the Norman area. They wade in it, they swim in it and some--like Danny Leiker--kayak in it.

Lately there have been new concerns raised about the water quality in the Canadian River. In a decade-long study, the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality found elevated levels of disease-causing bacteria in the Canadian and in its feeder creeks.

DEQ says the lion's share of the bacteria comes from cattle--plus smaller amounts from pets, wildlife and poor septic systems. You can't keep people out of the water, but people can keep the water out of them, following the same rules appropriate for swimming pools.

"You wouldn't want to ingest the water," K.C. Ely of the Oklahoma Health Department said. "You'd want to make sure you get your ears cleaned out when you're done. If you have any kind of illness you want to stay out of either type of water,"

Otherwise, DEQ warns, the bacteria could cause serious illnesses.

"It's good to know, it just worries me a little more to be a little bit more safe; obviously I won't be drinking any of the water or anything like that," Leiker said.

The warnings are appropriate at any time, but especially now on the eve of the Fourth of July holiday weekend, when many more people will want to celebrate down by the river side.

DEQ also warns swimmers to avoid floating debris, stagnant water, oil sheens or dead fish.