Swimming Holes Opening As Summer Approaches

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JACKSON COUNTY This springs heavy rains created a lot of storm water run-off into panhandle waterways. Some of those same waterways are also favorite swimming holes during the summer. Experts say people should be aware of possible water contamination, but not overly concerned.

Dark clouds couldn't keep the welch family from driving all the way from Tallahassee for an afternoon at Blue Spring Recreational Area in Marianna.

"We just came out for a little picnic, let the kids swim a little bit, enjoy the day,” said Andy Welch. “Make a day trip out here during the middle of the week."

"Well we're swimming in the water and it's really fun, but it is cold, but it's fun," said his daughter Addie.

But chances are the Welch’s aren't worried about microscopic bacteria that may also be swimming in the springs with them. Water safety is a major issue during the summer. Heavy rains and flooding this spring made waterways vulnerable to contamination.

Despite that possibility, these popular swimming holes are not required to close.

"We use to have a lot of authority, so to speak, over these bathing place, but with these code changes, about all we can do now are issue advisories,” explained Environmental Specialist Gene Commander. “We can't go in there and make them close."

"Being from out of town, we don't follow the report and we didn't hear about it,” explained Welch. “So it wasn't a concern when we came here. We just assumed the park was open, the water was safe."

The good news is recent tests show the bathing places in Jackson county are free of harmful bacteria.

To find out about water contamination, you can visit the Jackson County Health Department’s website at http://www.floridahealth.gov/chdJackson/environmental.htm