Springfield, MO – Memorial Day marks the start of two warm-weather surveillance programs for the Springfield-Greene County Health Department: stream water testing and heat-related illness.

“Each summer from Memorial Day to Labor Day, we do a weekly collection of  water,” said Projects Manager for Watershed Committee of the Ozarks Stacey Armstrong Smith.  “The health department then analyzes that for e. Coli bacteria.” 

Armstrong Smith said the stream testing serves as a public education opportunity for the community. 

“A lot of people are out recreating in the streams over the summer, so we just want them to have that knowledge to know what the e. Coli levels are,” said Armstrong Smith. “So they can make a judgment call if they want to go out and go swimming or not.” 

Test sites are chosen based on the likelihood people might come in contact with the water. 

“Especially the heavy rains we’ve had recently, you would not want to go swimming immediately after that,” said Armstrong Smith. “Every time it rains, it picks up everything that’s on the ground and on the land and it picks it up in the water and it carries it to the streams.”

The health department encourages you to practice healthy swimming. 

This includes never swallowing stream water and avoiding full-body contact water activities such as swimming when water is contaminated. 

“Each week the results are posted on the health department website, so people can find those typically every Thursday,” said Armstrong Smith. 

The health department said heat related illnesses are one hundred percent preventable.

It recommends to hydrate and avoid direct sun for long periods of time.