FAQs

What is a water contact risk?


There is always a chance of getting a water-related illness when you are in a natural body of water. When estimated water bacteria levels are higher than state water quality standards, your chances of getting a water-related illness increase. Chester County Health Department provides information about risks for water-related illnesses and recommends precautions you should consider based on estimated water bacteria levels. These recommendations do not stop you from getting in the water, but are meant to help lower your chances of getting a water-related illness.

What are water-related illnesses?


Water-related illnesses are caused by germs that enter the body when you swallow, breathe in, or touch contaminated water. These illnesses can affect many different parts of the body. The most commonly reported illnesses are diarrhea and vomiting.


How can I prevent water-related illnesses?


View the Health and Safety Tips page.

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an my pet get a water-related illness?

 
Yes. The risk of getting a water-related illness for pets is similar to the risk for people. Protect your pets by giving them fresh water to drink instead of letting them drink from the stream. Rinse pets off with fresh water and dry them thoroughly after pets swim or enter the stream.

How does the Health Department determine water-related illness risks?


We determine water-related illness risks by comparing estimated water bacteria levels to state water quality standards. 

When estimated bacteria levels are less than or equal to 400 colonies/100 ml, the risk for water-related illnesses is low. The Health Department recommends taking usual precautions when participating in recreational water activities. 

When estimated bacteria levels are greater than 400 colonies/100 ml, the risk for water-related illnesses increases. The Health Department recommends avoiding putting your head underwater, swallowing water, or exposing cuts or wounds to water in addition to taking usual precautions.

What type of bacteria is estimated?

 
USGS estimates fecal coliform bacteria levels using near real-time water quality information from streams. Water that contains fecal coliform bacteria may have been contaminated by the feces of people or other animals. High levels of fecal coliform bacteria may increase your chances of getting a water-related illness. 

What streams are monitored?

 
USGS monitors a specific location at five different streams in Chester County. Estimated bacteria levels may not represent upstream or downstream locations.