The public is being urged Saturday by Heal the Bay to avoid the waters of the Los Angeles River this weekend due to “alarmingly” high levels of bacterial pollution.

The nonprofit environmental group’s staff scientists collect weekly water quality samples at four sites in the Sepulveda Basin and Elysian Valley and said the bacteria levels are the highest they have ever seen since Heal the Bay began monitoring L.A. River sites in 2015.

Heal the Bay also said the results have a “special urgency” this weekend, as the fourth annual L.A. Boat Race is scheduled to take place at the Glendale Narrows and dozens of kayakers are expected for the event.

The high bacteria results are likely related to runoff from recent thunderstorms, and a fish kill in the Balboa Boulevard area of the Sepulveda Basin has also likely degraded water quality, Heal the Bay said.

Unlike at public beaches, Heal the Bay said there is no official protocol for authorities to alert the general public when potentially dangerous levels of bacteria are found in the river and called on city and county public health officials to develop one.

—City News Service

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