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Yet another effect of the drought

Bacteria.

One expert used simple rhyme to explain the reason behind high levels of bacteria in Texas waterways.

“The solution to pollution is dilution.”

Increased bacteria levels in rivers and streams due to decreased flow that typically dilutes runoff pollution is an expected yet overlooked toll of the drought, said Andrew Sansom, executive director of the River Systems Institute at Texas State University.

So, without more flow in waterways, there is no solution to pollution.

“We look at this drought as an issue of supply, but the real dark side is that we’re facing some real potential water quality issues as well,” Sansom said.

A report released Thursday by an environmental advocacy group concluded that bacteria levels are dangerously high in tests on five of 13 water bodies — including three in the Austin area: Barton Springs, Hamilton Pool and Bull Creek near Loop 360. The study compiled available data from 2010 through summer 2011 — kept by the City of Austin, the Lower Colorado River Authority, and other governmental agencies and river authorities — at popular Texas swimming locations .

Insufficient data — fewer than 10 tests in the year and a half — stymied analysis of a dozen more locations, said Luke Metzger , director of Environment Texas Research and Policy Center, which headed the study.

“The fact is that because we’re not testing frequently enough, it’s quite possible that the water is more unsafe or had more exceedances than we know about,” Metzger said.

You can find the report here. Have I mentioned lately that it would be nice if we got some rain?

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