Image Credit: Astacopsis Gouldi

E Coli found in Oxford waters following flooding

Recent flooding in Oxford has led to increased water contamination, including the presence of Escherichia coli (E coli). 

In the aftermath of Storm Henk, flooding and runoff continue to impact Oxfordshire. This has been accompanied by adverse ecological and sanitary consequences. With water management still in the works, water quality remains poor and individuals are discouraged from participating in recreational outdoor water activities. 

Earlier this week, the Oxford City Council announced that it “strongly advise[s] against wild swimming at this time”, due to “increased contamination […] and levels of E coli”.

E coli infections are characterised by symptoms such as nausea, abdominal cramps, and bloody diarrhoea. While most adults recover quickly, infection can be deadly for vulnerable or immunocompromised individuals. 

According to the Oxford City Council, water testing at Hinksey Lake in Iffley indicated higher levels of water contamination and the E coli bacteria. There is currently a high risk of being exposed to water pollution and contracting an infection. 

The City Council also stated that it was “likely there will be similarly increased levels of contamination in many areas of the river and other open water bodies”.

Oxford currently has one designated bathing water site at Port Meadow’s Wolvercote Mill Stream, which fails to meet the Environment Agency’s River Bathing standards. Although some flood protection measures have been put into place, further rainfall risks exacerbating river conditions.

Port Meadow’s water quality has recently been qualified as “poor” by government reports for the second year in a row, threatening its bathing site status. This is due to a sewage plant upstream that regularly releases open sewage into the waters. 

Pollution is especially concerning when water levels are high and following flood events. Swimmers are advised to take caution and avoid swimming in the River Thames and other open-water bodies. 

Relevant authorities are closely monitoring the situation for further updates and action.

Image credit: AstacopsisGouldi

Image description: the river Thames at Port Meadow