Springfield-Greene County Health Department News Releases

Posted on: May 22, 2017

May 26, 2017 - Stream Testing, Heat Illness Surveillance Begins for Summer

Photo shows a man's hand holding a glass jar just under the surface of the water of a smooth stre

The upcoming Memorial Day holiday means it is the summer season for the Springfield-Greene County Health Department. That marks the start of two warm-weather surveillance programs: stream water testing and heat-related illness.

Stream Testing

To provide information on the quality of water in local lakes and streams, the Health Department, with funding from the Greene County Commission, partners with the Watershed Committee of the Ozarks to monitor select stream and river locations in Greene County for the presence of E. coli.

Samples are collected from five area swimming locations weekly by the Watershed Committee, and tested by the health department lab staff. Despite a challenging budget year, the Greene County Commission continued funding the water lab testing program at the Health Department because of its importance in the community.

Sites are selected based on their accessibility and the likelihood that people might come in contact with the water.

Those locations are on: 

  • James River
  • Galloway Creek
  • Lake Springfield
  • Little Sac River
  • Wilson’s Creek

The health department does not regulate these sites in any way and these are not dedicated public access points. The information is provided as a community service.

The latest results can be found at http://health.springfieldmo.gov/summer. Results are generally posted once a week on Wednesdays.  Testing typically runs from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

The most common recreational water illness is diarrhea, which is caused by swallowing water contaminated by E. coli, Shigella, Giardia or Cryptosporidium. To help protect your family from recreational water illnesses, follow these healthy swimming tips:

  • Do not swim after heavy rains, or if the water is murky. Bacterial levels are often elevated in stormwater runoff.
  • Do not swim when you have diarrhea. You may spread bacteria and make other people sick.
  • Do not swallow swimming water; and if possible avoid getting it in your mouth altogether.
  • Practice good hygiene. Bacteria from your hands could end up on your food.
  • When water is contaminated or conditions are uncertain, avoid full-body contact water activities such as swimming and diving.

Heat-Related Illness

The Health Department tracks instances of various heat-related illnesses each year, including heat exhaustion and heat stroke. These illnesses are entirely preventable, yet many instances occur every summer. Conditions such as age, obesity, fever, dehydration, heart disease, mental illness, poor circulation, sunburn, and prescription drug and alcohol use can increase the risk for heat-related illness.

The keys to preventing heat-related illness are hydration and avoiding direct sun for long periods of time. For more tips to beat the heat and to see the latest numbers throughout the season, visit http://health.springfieldmo.gov/summer


For more information, contact: Stacey Armstrong with the Watershed Committee of the Ozarks, (417) 866-1127; or Kathryn Wall, Public Health Information Administrator, Springfield-Greene County Health Department  at (417) 874-1205.

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