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Weekend weather brings E. coli concerns, road closure

The weekend's rainy onslaught brought more than downed trees, lightning-fueled fires and flooded creeks to Gwinnett County -- it introduced a heaping helping of bacteria to the Chattahoochee River.

Estimated counts of E. coli bacteria in the river at Medlock Bridge Road in Duluth were at a whopping 32,304 on Monday afternoon, according to the Chattahoochee Riverway Project. The high-risk threshold is just 235 colonies per 100 milliliters of water.

Officials are warning residents to stay out of the water for the time being.

"When E. coli counts exceed 235, there is a statistically greater risk that more than 8 people out of 1,000 people using the river will experience stomach illness," according to the project.

Bacteria levels in the river typically increase due to heavy rains, thanks to runoff from surrounding areas.

The National Weather Service recorded about 2.5 inches of rain at the Buford Dam between 7 a.m. Sunday and 7 a.m. Monday, but some reports counted as much as seven inches in surrounding areas. Nearby Hall County and Flowery Branch were hit hard, declaring states of emergency. The latter issued a boil watery advisory until 9 p.m. Monday.

Locally, Sweetwater Road from Old Norcross Road and Pleasant Hill Road was closed Monday due to emergency drainage repairs.

The storms also kept Gwinnett County Fire Department officials busy -- between 3 and 8 a.m. Sunday, the responded to a total of 105 calls, including four weather-fueled fires, a gas leak, an accident with injuries and a tree down on Interstate 85.