AIKEN - Swimmers now can venture into Langley Pond without fear of getting sick.
The county reopened the swimming area to the public Monday morning after water quality tests deemed the pond safe. The elevated levels of bacteria found in the water last Thursday, forcing the county to close the pond, had significantly dropped, officials said.
Brian Sanders, Aiken County's parks and recreation director, said the thunderstorm that swept through the area last week contributed to the pond's contamination.
As mandated by state law, Langley Pond is tested twice a month.
The pond typically measures between 50 and 100 colony-forming units for every 100 milliliters on the fecal coliform test.
The maximum allowed is 400.
"The test that we received that started all of this problem was 500," Mr. Sanders said. "The one that we received this morning was 17."
Mr. Sanders said he's not sure why there was a drastic decline in contamination levels - he's just happy it did drop.
Mr. Sanders said he can remember only one other time when the pond was closed to swimmers because of high contaminate levels. A hurricane had hit the coast and by the time it hit the area it dropped to a tropical storm.
"That time it really didn't impact us like this one did," he said. "Here we are in the mid-summer height of the season, height of the use of Langley Pond, we were sad to close it down, but it was the right thing to do."
The bacteria is naturally occurring and can be found in any natural body of water.
If a person swallows enough water that is contaminated, he or she might get gastrointestinal distress.
"It's not going to kill you. It's just something that will make you ill," Mr. Sanders said.
Reach Michelle Guffey at (803) 648-1395, ext. 110, or firstname.lastname@example.org.