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Woodward Reservoir water: It’s even cleaner

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Woodward Reservoir water: It’s even cleaner

People enjoying Woodward Reservoir 16 miles northeast of Manteca on 26 Mile Road near Dodds Road.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

POSTED June 20, 2014 1:17 a.m.

Just a day after the Stanislaus County Department of Public Health was bombarded with questions after allegations that a stomach bug a Stockton man contracted came from the water at Woodward Reservoir came to light, they’re now saying that the water is actually cleaner than what was previously thought. 

In a release that was sent out Thursday afternoon, the department outlined how recently completed tests on water at popular swimming areas – the same areas that were tested before the Memorial Day weekend and showed higher than normal traces of Coliform bacteria – actually show a significant decline to a level that would normally be below where postings would be required. 

The cause of the Campylobacter – a common food-borne illness that can also be attributed to untreated water which was detected in Stockton man Luis Lopez after his hospitalization – was not found after an investigation by the San Joaquin Public Health Agency. 

“We greatly value all of our customers who come to our County reservoirs and parks and they have been extremely supportive through this,” stated Jami Aggers, the Director of Parks and Recreation for Stanislaus County. “The statement that the water was the cause of the illness and that the reservoir should be shut down – even before a Public Health investigation occurred – was very emotionally charged and difficult for us. We knew the probability of the water being the cause of the infection was medically unlikely. 

“However, we were prepared to take action if public health professionals felt there was a problem because safety is a top priority for us. Woodward Reservoir continues to be a beautiful place to visit and have fun and we look forward to our customers continuing to enjoy it.”

Social media accounts of Lopez’ illness and others that people attributed to the water at the lake from weekend excursions over the last week spread quickly and prompted traditional media outlets to inquire about their legitimacy. Aggers said on Wednesday that it would likely be hard to pinpoint the exact cause of Lopez’ illness, and the conclusion of the San Joaquin County report showed just that.

Even though the bacterial counts (total coliform was elevated on the first test but E.Coli tests showed low levels) were elevated they were still well below the threshold that would have warranted the closure of the lake – even the posting of the notices was voluntary as a service to patrons, according to Aggers. 

The newest tests show that they’re no longer necessary, but the release stressed that lakes and rivers and other bodies of untreated water carry amounts of bacteria in them and that those with sensitive skin conditions should exercise caution when swimming or wading in them. The water, it said, should never be drank, and noted that bacteria counts naturally rise and fall over time. 

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