Stillwater River now safe for normal activities after Memorial Day tornadoes

UPDATE @ 6:01 p.m. (June 5): Montgomery County has confirmed in a tweet that the Stillwater River is now safe.

Public Health in consultation with the Ohio EPA have determined that normal river recreation activities may resume.

>> Severe Thunderstorm Watch issued for most; strong winds, hail main storm threats

County sewer officials had to divert wastewater directly into the Stillwater River — and subsequently the downstream Great Miami — after two lift stations lost power on Memorial Day.

If the diversion hadn’t happened, sewage would have backed up into homes and businesses, county officials said last week.

An advisory against swimming, drinking, fishing and other recreational activities was issued May 28, the day after 15 tornadoes struck the region.

The wastewater redirect into the river ended the afternoon of Thursday, May 30, said Brianna Wooten, Montgomery County spokeswoman. The county did not have an estimated volume of sewage released, but she expected to know today.

“While limited sewage bypassing occurred immediately following the storm events last week, there has been no sewage diverted to the river since the afternoon of May 30,” said Dan Suffoletto, a spokesman for Public Health — Dayton & Montgomery County.

Typical precautions such as avoiding consumption of river water, washing hands and showering after river use are still encouraged.

INITIAL REPORT: Stay out of the Stillwater and Great Miami rivers -- and don't fish in either body of water -- until further notice.

Why? Wastewater.

Montgomery County Environmental Services, because of the widespread power outages brought on by the Memorial Day tornadoes, has begun to temporarily redirect wastewater into the Stillwater in Montgomery County to minimize damage to private property and residences. The Ohio EPA has been notified of the bypass.

The suggestion is precautionary, officials with Public Health Dayton & Montgomery County said in a statement Tuesday night.

There are increased health risks associated with coming into contact with wastewater.

Parasites, viruses and bacteria can cause a range of conditions including diarrhea, dysentery, gastroenteritis and hepatitis A.

To prevent the spread of disease, Public Health is advising you not to enter the wastewater until the water diversion has ended.

Swallowing a small amount of contaminated wastewater or having contaminated wastewater come in contact with an open wound may make you sick.

>> EPA water sample results due; Boil advisory continues

The symptoms can range from mild to severe.

If you have diarrhea, the most important thing you can do is to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. This is especially important for young children, pregnant women, and persons with weakened immune systems (such as those living with HIV/AIDS, those who have received an organ transplant, or those receiving certain types of chemotherapy).

Seek medical care immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms:

• Your diarrhea is bloody or diarrhea isn’t improving after 3 days

• Your diarrhea is accompanied by fever or chills

• You are dehydrated (signs of dehydration include: dry or “cottony” mouth, cracked lips, dry flushed skin, headache, irritability, not urinating at least four times a day, no tears when crying, not sweating, or confusion)

A health care provider may prescribe medicine to help replace fluids your body has lost because of the diarrhea. In some cases, over-the-counter medications can slow the diarrhea.