Posted: Sep 25, 2013 8:17 PM by Jamie Leary - KBZK News
While the problem isn't new to Bozeman Creek, the presence of E. Coli is becoming more prevalent while research is helping to save a viable source of water for the local community.
MSU Extension Water Quality Specialist Adam Sigler said, "This project is really to try and expand on the data that the DEQ had collected to better understand where the issues in the creek are rising and to take more samples to better understand how it changes over the year."
Sigler reads the latest test results and says, "All of the sites except for the trailhead coming out of the canyon, are above the threshold that DEQ has set."
In this two-year study, the levels are lower this year than what they were last year.
"The numbers are lower than they were last year at this time so that's good and it might have something to do with the amount of rain that we've had that's maybe doing a little bit of dilution and the flows might be a little bit higher right now than they were."
But Sigler says it's still a health concern.
"So it's basically it's a risk factor and when the numbers of E. coli get high, there's more risk. I certainly wouldn't go down and fill up a glass of water and drink it out of Bozeman Creek but I also wouldn't be scared to walk in it."
The presence of E.coli in waterways is a common issue in urban areas. There are a number of factors that contribute to this problem. While some of those are human caused, others are beyond our control.
"Septic system maintenance is a really important one. If a septic system isn't functioning properly, especially if it's close to the creek, then partially treated waste water can be entering the creek," Sigler said.
Even though one can't see Bozeman Creek from many recreation areas around the city, the combination of fecal matter from wildlife, livestock and pets is enough to contaminate the river.
It washes into the river on rainy days and in the spring when snow starts to melt.
"In general, Bozeman Creek is in really good shape in a lot of ways but as the population of Bozeman continues to grow, the problems could grow too if we're not careful and we definitely have a lot of improvements to make and so having people aware of what they can do and that there are issues, it's a critical education piece," Sigler said.