What's in the Water? (VIDEO)

By Stephanie Parkinson

April 30, 2013 Updated Apr 30, 2013 at 6:33 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) - Dangerous bacteria are probably not your first thought when thinking about going for a walk with your children or pets but 21 Alive has discovered there are times when the water in the city is simply not safe.

After days of rain Zach Bowman from Sherry Laboratories tested flood waters in Fort Wayne for 21 Alive. What he found was E. coli levels that were off the charts.

"You can get multiple diseases from this kind of stuff,” said Zach Bowman, Project Manager, Sherry Laboratories.

Zach had a good feeling of what he would find but when he saw the actual level of E. coli even he was shocked.

"We didn't go very deep into that water source yesterday and we didn't really stir it up that much either,” said Bowman.

Zach says the deeper you go into the water source and the more you stir up the water the higher those readings would be.

"You see a lot of people taking their animals out into parks and letting them get into that kind of water but with bacteria levels this high and the fact that we know we've got untreated sewage going back into the river water, it's something you generally don't want to have your children or animals associated with,” said Bowman.

Swinney Park sits just off the Saint Mary's River. That's where Zach tested. But he didn't go into the river instead he took water samples from the top of the flooded areas of the park. Zach says these scary findings are just one example of what's all over the city after a big rain.

"We have untreated sewage flushing back into the river system, and then coming back into those parks and those low lying areas. Anyplace you think that water might be being fed from the rivers, I would stay back,” said Bowman.

We asked Zach if the city could do anything differently to make the water safer for the community. He said he's impressed with the water treatment facility, and said there isn't anything that can be done.

"It is just the way it is. When you've got that much precipitation that quickly we can't really avoid it,” said Bowman.

The City of Fort Wayne is aware of the problem. During the warmer months the water is tested weekly and the results are available online for residents to see. Signs are also posted along the rivers warning of contamination after heavy rains.

For a link to the water quality weekly test results go to the Newslinks section of our website. There you can also find a link to sign up for e-mail notifications from the city when there is overflow from the sewer system into the rivers.

For more information on Sherry Labs visit their website at www.sherrylabs.com.

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