The Florida Department of Health has issued an advisory to residents and visitors in two counties next to the Withlacoochee River in north Florida. The city of Valdosta has reported a 1.3 million gallon spill. The spill is made up of a combination of storm water and untreated sewage that has overflowed into One-Mile Branch, Two-Mile Branch, Knights Creek, Mud Creek and Sugar Creek, all which flow into the Withlacoochee River.
Until further information is known regarding possible contamination of the river, people in the area are urged to take precautions when in contact with the Withlacoochee River. This includes those individuals in Hamilton and Madison counties.
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’s 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 river water.
For more information about the potential health effects of wastewater overflow, Floridians are encouraged to contact their county health department. To find contact information for your county health department, visit www.floridahealth.gov.