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Rain could wash toxins into Bear Creek

Burnt buildings and land surrounding Bear Creek contain toxic waste that would run into the waterways with enough rain.

Posted: Oct 5, 2020 7:19 PM

TALENT, Ore. — Substantial rain hasn't been seen in the Rogue Valley for months, but that could all change this weekend. While most of the valley needs the rain, it could also have a negative impact on Bear Creek waterways.

Because of the burnt buildings and scorched earth left by the Almeda Fire, toxins may be left from building materials and ash. Rain could wash those toxins into Bear Creek and cause devastating environmental impacts.

"If there's a lot of runoff that goes into the storm drains or goes directly into Bear Creek," Bill Meyers, the Rogue Basin Coordinator for the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, said. "It can impact water quality and potentially the fish and aquatic species that are in the Creek."

There are ways to protect runoff from reaching Bear Creek. Some of those techniques are already in place, like filters over storm drains that flow directly into the creek. Additionally, people can use straw bales in runoff areas to filter out debris and toxins.

"For Bear Creek, it's environmental impact," Meyers said. "But there are drinking water sources downstream in the Rogue River and those water sources have been doing additional testing."

Toxins that could runoff from buildings include asbestos, heavy metals and lead. If there is enough rain those could have a devastating impact on the Bear Creek waterways.

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