Officials warn of fecal bacteria in Jackson County creeks

Several areas of Bear Creek and Jackson Creek have tested at elevated levels.

Posted: Jul 9, 2019 2:46 PM
Updated: Jul 9, 2019 2:49 PM

JACKSON COUNTY, Ore. — A coalition of local governments is warning the public to stay out of several Jackson County waterways due to elevated levels of fecal bacteria.

The Rogue Valley Council of Governments put out a statement on Tuesday saying that several areas had tested above state bacteria standards for recreation.

"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 statement said.

According to the Council, several areas on two different waterways had exceeded those state standards:

  • Bear Creek at Eagle Mill Road (Ashland)
  • Bear Creek at Suncrest Road (Talent)
  • Bear Creek at Fern Valley Road (Phoenix)
  • Bear Creek at Jefferson Nature Center (Medford)
  • Bear Creek at 9th Street (Medford)
  • Bear Creek above Griffin Creek (Central Point)
  • Jackson Creek at Blackwell Road (Central Point)

The statement underlined that the warning does not cover all creeks in Jackson County, or in the Bear Creek watershed.

High levels of bacteria could be caused by pet waste, livestock waste, wild animals, leaking septic systems, illegal dumping from portable toilets or RVs, or "any other activity that results in the discharge of fecal matter directly into creeks or through storm drains."

The Council's statement said that people can help reduce the chance of elevated bacteria levels by picking up after their pets, keeping manure and kitty litter away from creeks and storm drains, having their septic systems inspected and repaired, and putting toddlers in swim diapers.

Ashland issued a similar warning just over a week ago for the Swim Reservoir at Lithia Park.

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