Levels of the harmful E.coli bacteria in a Suffolk river were between five and 500 times higher than the level recommended, a study has found.

Volunteers from the Deben Climate Centre, which engages communities in climate action, have been sampling water from non-tidal areas of the River Deben, particularly around Anglian Water waste treatment works.

They also took samples of flood water during Storm Babet in October when there had been a number of sewage discharges associated with waste treatment works being inundated with water.

READ MORE: Suffolk river group's call for action over water quality

One sample taken from close to flooded properties in the High Street in Wickham Market revealed there were 126 E.coli colonies per 1ml of water when the recommended Environment Agency (EA) level is nine colonies per 1ml.

Another area with high levels was Rendlesham Weir, where 115 E.coli colonies were recorded per 1ml of water, while at Byng Brook at Ufford, there were 73 E.coli colonies.

Water sampling at Ufford Hole 'swimming hole' between the summer of 2022 and early 2023 also revealed levels as high as more than 9,000 colonies per 100ml at the lower hole and more than 6,000 colonies at the upper hole.

READ MORE: E.coli warnings for swimmers at popular River Deben spot

In the report, created by volunteer scientists David Findley and Bill Brammar, the authors said: "Overall, the E.coli picture on the non-tidal Deben is as bad if not worse than the tidal

"Low river flows in summer combined with significant abstraction for public water supply and for farming irrigation make many stretches of the water dangerous to enter."

They cited anecdotal reports of bacterial infections of humans and animals from swimming in the river and said a campsite owner had lost £20,000 in revenue from cancelled bookings due to fears over water safety.

READ MORE: Suffolk: Deben pollution finds 'could help' bathing bid

However, a spokesperson for Anglian Water said the EA did not set bacteriological standards for areas of the river that were not designated for bathing.

Currently, a section of the river at Waldringfield has designated bathing status and she said where the status exists, Anglian Water could put forward investment plans to protect and enhance the water quality in that area.

READ MORE: Suffolk news