Water samples from the area where a combination of rainwater, creek water and untreated wastewater spilled came back showing high levels of E. coli.

Cobb county officials told 11Alive Tuesday that they had stopped the spill. The untreated water was released into Nickajack Creek near where it empties into the Chattahoochee River.

A pump failure at the South Cobb Water Reclamation Facility caused the problem. Officials are now asking everyone avoid the spill site and all areas close to it until the issue is completely resolved, since the the E. coli levels downstream of the spill in the river were more than five times higher than their normal levels, according to the Chattahoochie Riverkeeper.

They also said oxygen levels were found to be suitable to sustain fish and wildlife along multiple locations in the Chattahoochee River and in Nickajack Creek where samples were taken.

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The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention's website says although most strains of E. coli are harmless, others can make people sick. Symptoms can include include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea (often bloody), and vomiting. Some people may have a fever.

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Below is the full statement from the Chattahoochie Riverkeeper about the water samples. 

On Monday, we tested dissolved oxygen levels in multiple locations in the Chattahoochee River and in Nickajack Creek, which is one of the river’s direct tributaries. These levels were found to be suitable to sustain fish and wildlife. However, we also tested water samples around the spill for the presence of E.coli bacteria, which was found to be extremely high. E.coli levels downstream of the spill in the river were more than five times higher than normal. Because of this bacteria’s potential to cause serious illness, we strongly recommend that everyone avoid the spill site and all areas close to it until the issue is completely resolved. 

CRK [Chattahoochie Riverkeeper] regularly tests for water quality at 150 locations in the watershed each week to identify areas impacted by sewer spills like the one happening in Nickajack Creek. These challenges illustrate just how stressed the Chattahoochee River is, not just during heavy rains, but on a daily basis. It is the majority supplier of water for the Atlanta region and beyond, and we encourage everyone to consider how they might help us care for it.

This system is not related to Cobb County's drinking water. The south Cobb facility is one of four wastewater treatment plants that serve the county, primarily dealing with wastewater and runoff from the Austell area and parts of southern Cobb County.

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