The Charles County Department of Health Division of Environmental Health Services has issued an advisory warning the public to avoid contact with the water around the following areas:
- Friendship Landing at Nanjemoy Creek,
- and Neale Sound, Cobb Island.
Stream samples taken on August 15, 2006, to test for Enterococcus bacteria in these areas exceeded the maximum contaminant level for recreational use. According to the non-profit, environmental organization, the Surfrider Foundation, "Enterococcus is a bacteria found in the human intestine and therefore a good indicator of human waste." A study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that an increased concentration of enterococcus bacteria correlated with increased illness of swimmers.
County officials noted that fecal matter could have entered the water system either via faulty septic systems or via outdoorsmen emptying their waste onto the ground or into the water. Officials also noted that the presence of Enterococcus bacteria could be an indication of fecal matter from animals. The animals could be from a local farm or simply wild animals such as deer. In either case, the matter likely entered the water table via surface runoff.
The contamination caused by these types of problem can be reduced by making sure that your septic system is in good working order. Neighbors can report suspected faulty septic systems to local health officials who have the authority to work with homeowners to resolve the problems. Farmers can reduce the runoff of animal waste and fertilizer into the water table by installing buffer zones along the boundary of their property.
For more information, contact the Charles County Department of Health Environmental Health Services Division at 301-609-6751, or go to the Health Departments Alerts page at http://www.charlescountyhealth.org/Alerts/Alerts.htm.