New tests have found harmful levels of chemicals and sewage in water that flows into Congaree National Park near Columbia, according to a new report.
The State newspaper noted preliminary water studies released by the U.S. Geological Survey that found traces of birth control drugs, medicines to control diabetes, and even e.Coli bacteria in Congaree’s waterways.
The researchers outlined their findings during a water issues conference hosted by Clemson University earlier this month. The study identified leaking septic tanks and small sewage plant discharges as likely sources of the bacteria. There is no regional sewer network in the southeastern Richland County area where the national park is located.
The study found trace amounts of birth control medicine, hormones, and mood stabilizers in the water, likely from pharmaceuticals that made their way into sewage and then leaked into groundwater. The USGS researchers said even small amounts of the drugs in the water can hurt fish reproduction or make them slow to react to predators.
The amount of such chemicals were tiny, however — only reported as several parts per trillion. But the USGS worried that even microscopic levels could have a noticeable impact on the environment. The study did not examine fish populations or if the levels were having an actual effect.