Tests reveal high levels of E. coli in parts of Bear Creek and nearby waterways

Officials said that samples collected June 29 exceeded state water quality standards for bacteria.

Posted: Jul 7, 2021 4:33 PM
Updated: Jul 7, 2021 4:40 PM

MEDFORD, Ore. — Local officials are cautioning the public to avoid recreation in part so fo the Bear Creek Greenway and its tributaries after routine tests exceeded state water quality standards for the E. coli bacteria.

People are asked to use caution when in contact with these waterways and avoid ingestion or contact with open wounds. Very young children should be fully supervised if playing in the water to avoid swallowing, which could cause illness. Officials do not recommend wading or swimming in these areas, either.

Any body of water carries some level of risk, according to the Rogue Valley Council of Governments.

The following areas exceeded state bacteria standards for recreation based on samples collected June 26:

  • Neil Creek at Dead Indian Memorial Road to the mouth in Ashland
  • Bear Creek at South Valley View Road in North Ashland
  • Bear Creek from Lynn Newbry Park in Talent to Blue Heron Park in Phoenix
  • Bear Creek at 9th Street in Medford
  • Jackson Creek at Beall Lane in Central Point
  • Bear Creek at Pine Street in Central Point
  • Griffin Creek at I-5 in Central Point
  • Jackson Creek at Dean Creek Road in Central Point

A number of factors can cause high levels of bacteria like E. coli in local creeks. These can include pet waste, livestock waste, wild animals, leaking septic systems, illegal dumping from portable toilets or RVs, or anything else that sees fecal matter discharged into creeks or storm drains.

Findings like these are not unusual during the early summer — in fact, similar warnings were issued in July of 2019 and July of 2020, albeit for different areas of the Bear Creek watershed.

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