Pixel Tracker

Sunday, November 18 , 2018, 9:47 am | Fair with Haze 60º

 
 
 
 

Outdoors Q&A: Understanding Waterway Health Advisories

Striper fishing in the lower American River is a popular summertime kids’ activity, but health advisories should be heeded. Click to view larger
Striper fishing in the lower American River is a popular summertime kids’ activity, but health advisories should be heeded. (CDFW file photo)

Question: I saw a notice in the newspaper that there is a high level of E. coli in the lower American River at the confluence of the Sacramento River in Sacramento County. I am planning on going striper fishing with my son there. Is it safe to eat the fish if we catch some stripers?

Where can I find more information? (Fernando, West Sacramento)

Answer: The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) does not issue health advisories, but relies upon public health experts who do — in particular, the California Department of Public Health, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), California State Water Resources Control Board, and local public health departments.

Health advisories can be issued for bodies of water based upon possible contamination of the fish or of the water itself.

At the confluence of the American River and Sacramento River, there are two different health warnings in effect right now: One for E.coli, and one for high mercury levels.

Sacramento Department of Regional Parks issued the recent notice regarding E. coli bacteria found in the lower American River. High levels of E. coli can cause anyone coming in contact with the water to get sick from the pathogens.

The healthy water habits below are recommended when a “Use Caution” status is placed on a waterway with possible E. coli contamination:

» Actively supervise children and pets in or near water
» Avoid algae blooms (brightly colored water) and trash in the water
» Wash hands/shower after swimming

» Do not:

Drink river water
Cook or wash dishes with river/lake water
Change diapers in or near water
Swim when you are sick
Enter the water if you have cuts or open sores. These are pathways for bacteria to enter your body.
Enter the water for several days after a significant rainstorm. Storm flows spike bacteria levels, which decrease with time.

People with immune-suppressive diseases should avoid direct contact with the river altogether.

Other areas in Sacramento County with historically high E. coli readings include Discovery Park Boat Launch, Tiscornia Beach and the Howe Avenue River Access. The Central Valley Water Board is planning a study this summer to help better understand the problem.

OEHHA has issued another independent advisory regarding mercury toxicity levels in fish for the Sacramento River and Northern Delta, which includes the area you want to fish and all waterbodies in the Delta north of Highway 12.

Mercury is a chemical that bioaccumulates in the fish tissues themselves, as opposed to contaminating the water.

The last five pages of the Freshwater Fishing Regulations booklet addresses safe preparation guidelines and consumption advice for those who regularly eat sport-caught fish. Here you will find OEHHA advisories on mercury, including an advisory flyer specific to the Lower American River.

At the confluence of the American and Sacramento Rivers, experts advise the following: Striped bass should not be consumed by women between the ages of 18-45 or by children ages 1-17. Unborn babies and children are more likely to have health problems from chemicals in the fish.

Women 46 years and older, and men 18 years and older are advised to only eat two servings a week of striped bass. (The flyer also contains information about other fish.)

OEHHA recommends limited consumption of different types of fish depending on their mercury level for women and men in this age group:

» Low – Two servings a week or seven servings a week of clams: American shad, rainbow trout, steelhead trout, chinook (king) salmon, Asiatic clam
» Medium – One serving per week: carp or goldfish, crappie, sucker, bluegill or other sunfish, catfish, hardhead, crayfish or hitch
» High – Do not eat: striped bass, bass, pikeminnow or white sturgeon

Understanding the difference between the American River E. coli contamination and Sacramento River mercury levels can help you make informed decisions about what fish to eat from different fishing destinations.

Using these referenced advisories from public health professionals will help you stay up to date on current conditions and stay safe while enjoying time outdoors.

Helpful links:

Sacramento County Regional Parks E. coli Information
OEHHA Fish Advisories
Lower American River Fish Eating Guide Based on mercury contamination
Sacramento River and Northern Delta Fish Eating Guide

— Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish & Wildlife. She can be reached at [email protected].

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Email
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership
×

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >