High levels of E. coli have been found in the Mary River.
High levels of E. coli have been found in the Mary River.

Gastro bug found in popular Gympie swimming spot

TWO popular Mary River swimming spots have recorded E. coli levels five times higher than recommended.

The Gympie weir and opposite Charls St Park at Kenilworth were found to have high levels of the bacteria by the Mary River Catchment co-ordinating Committee during its crawl on October 9-10.

The bacteria is potentially a source of gastrointestinal disease.

E. coli levels at the weir were found to be 1000 per 100mL, and 770 at Kenilworth.

MRCCC’s Brad Wedlock said levels at the weir last year sat about the 200-250 organisms per 100mL.

Levels of 150 per 100ML are recommended.

The Mary River Catchment co-ordinating Committee tests the Mary River.
The Mary River Catchment co-ordinating Committee tests the Mary River.

Mr Wedlock said the elevated levels could be caused by many things, including cattle run-off or even a camper using the river for personal reasons.

“The consistent thing is there’s no consistency.

“We’re not finding a specific spot high all the time.

“It rises every so often in different parts of the river,” Mr Wedlock said.

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This year’s finding was strange given the dry conditions, and Mr Wedlock said the stormwater drain above the weir was flowing at the time of testing — possibly indicating a leak.

A Gympie Regional Council spokesman said the elevated readings were “likely to have occurred due to the area being rural catchment, and when combined with low water levels, bacteria can become “more concentrated”.

The Mary River.
The Mary River.

“Council has referred the matter to the state government and will work with them to investigate the matter further,” he said.

The MRCCC tested nine sites on their crawl.

Water temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, turbidity (level of transparency) of the waterway were all tested.

Mr Wedlock said the Mary River “does process E. coli quite well” and once the region gets rain the elevated numbers are likely to disperse.

The weir’s levels were not the highest ever.

Tests at Kenilworth and Moy Pocket over the past three years have turned up bigger concentrations.

Levels also spike after the first significant rainfall of the season, he said.