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Areas of Bear Creek, other local waterways contaminated with E. coli

Water quality tests found levels of E. coli that exceeded state standards in the Bear Creek watershed, according to the Rogue Valley Council of Governments.

Posted: Jul 15, 2020 3:08 PM
Updated: Jul 15, 2020 3:12 PM

MEDFORD, Ore. — Recent water quality tests found levels of E. coli in areas of the Bear Creek watershed that exceeded state standards, according to the Rogue Valley Council of Governments.

Laboratory tests of water samples from parts of Bear Creek, Neil Creek, Walker Creek, Jackson Creek, and Griffin Creek all exceeded state bacteria standards for "contact recreation" like swimming or wading.

"Residents are asked to use caution when in contact with any waterways and especially to avoid ingestion (which may cause illness) and contact with open wounds (which may cause infection)," the Rogue Valley Council of Governments said in a statement. "Very young children should be fully supervised when playing in the water to avoid swallowing the water."

The statement noted that contact with any water body – creeks, rivers, lakes, or swimming pools – carries some level of risk.

These specific areas tested above state standards:

  • Walker Creek at the Belle Fiore Winery entrance in Ashland
  • Neil Creek at Dead Indian Memorial Road across from the Ashland Airport in Ashland
  • Bear Creek at Eagle Mill Road in Ashland
  • Bear Creek at Suncrest Road in Talent
  • Bear Creek at 9th Street in Medford
  • Bear Creek at Table Rock Road in Central Point
  • Jackson Creek at Beall Lane in Central Point
  • Bear Creek above Griffin Creek in Central Point
  • Griffin Creek off of the Bear Creek Greenway near Interstate-5

This kind of bacterial contamination could be caused by pet waste, livestock waste, wild animals, leaking septic systems, illegal dumping from portable toilets or RVs, or any number of activities where fecal waste is discharged into creeks or storm drains.

To help prevent further issues, people are urged to pick up after pets, keep animal waste away from creeks and storm drains, have septic systems inspected and repaired if failing, and put toddlers in swim diapers.

"Citizens are asked to notify the appropriate agency of any concerns. Failing septic systems and other pollutants discharged into streams should be reported to the Department of Environmental Quality," the Council of Governments said.

Complaints can be reported to the complaint hotline at 1-888-997-7888 or online at the DEQ website.

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