High levels of E. coli found in Henley days before international regatta | E. coli

Harmful E. coli Bacteria have been found at very high levels in Henley, days before elite rowers compete there in the international regatta.

Water quality tests at Henley Mile, part of the race course on the outskirts of the Oxfordshire town, have revealed average levels of 1,213 E. coli colony forming units (CFU) per 100 ml of water, in 27 tests. E. coli Levels are greater than 900 CFU/100 ml, the water quality is considered poor, according to bathing water designations, and is a threat to public health.

The highest reading recorded by River Action activists reached 25,000 CFU/100ml, more than 27 times the acceptable limit for bathing water. The second highest reading was 8,001 CFU/100ml of water.

As a result of the tests, Henley Royal Regatta organisers are warning the 4,000 elite rowers to protect themselves from waterborne illnesses and infections. Rowers are advised to cover cuts and avoid swallowing splashes of river water.

As thousands of rowers prepare to compete at Henley from July 2-7, Sir Steve Redgrave, a former Olympic rower and chairman of the Henley Royal Regatta management committee, said the findings were a reminder of the effect sewage pollution was having on the UK’s rivers.

“Henley Royal Regatta supports the research carried out by River Action, which highlights the essential work that needs to be done to improve the cleanliness of our waterways so they can be enjoyed by all,” Redgrave said. “Our rowers train daily throughout the country. “Our waterways are vitally important to our competitors who compete, but also to all the athletes who train daily across the country.”

But Thames Water said it was not the cause of the bacteria increase and accused River Action of being alarmist. The company said it had carried out its own tests since May at two different points on the river and the results were “reassuring”.

He said his lab tests showed that apart from two days in May and two in June E.coli The levels remained constant at levels considered good for bathing waters.

E. coli and increases in intestinal enterococci for two days in May and two days in June had nothing to do with their departures, the company said, blaming industrial and road runoff and parasites from livestock and poultry.

In a tense stand-off between the company and campaigners, Dave Wallace, who carried out the River Action tests in Henley, said Thames Water had taken its measurements in a different area of ​​the river.

Wallace used a Fluidion verified by the World Health Organization. E.coli analyzer – a portable microbiological laboratory – for testing and the work was supervised by the NGO Earthwatch. The equipment provides results in hours, rather than involving the delays of static laboratory testing.

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“We have been testing the river in an area of ​​higher recreational use on the Henley Mile, such as the race course,” Wallace said. “We also know that the outflow from Henley’s wastewater treatment plants affects this area, so we were surprised that Thames Water had chosen to test the two locks, which are long distances from the race course so their use is low and their impact on wastewater is minor.”

River Action testing at Henley Mile in Fawley Meadows began on 28 May and will run until 7 July. Between 28 May and 25 June, 47% of readings were above 900 CFU/100ml.

James Wallace, chief executive of River Action, said: “It is shocking that we have had to give health advice to competitors at Henley Royal Regatta. Thankfully the organisers are showing their duty of care to rowers by issuing guidance that will help keep competitors safe.”

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