3 Local creeks exceed bacteria levels

Bear, Neil and Butler creeks in Ashland and Wagner Creek in Talent are the newest local additions to the Jackson County's Creek Safety Watch this week.

Routine water-quality testing results indicate that the creeks have exceeded state bacteria standards for recreation purposes. The Rogue Valley Council of Governments is asking that residents use caution around these waterways and to avoid ingestion and contact with open wounds which may cause illness or infection.

Contamination is commonly a result of raised E. coli levels caused by increased discharge of fecal matter into the local watershed. The possible causes of contamination have been reported as animal waste, wild animals, leaking septic systems, illegal dumping or any activity resulting in the discharge of fecal matter directly into creeks or through storm drains.

The most recent report does not include Ashland Creek in Lithia Park.

"As of right now, Ashland Creek is still below state levels in regard to water quality," said Greg Stabach of the RVCOG. "We test the area often and we have no indication right now that shows a closure is in the immediate future."

Stabach said that while current levels are acceptable, the long-term trend of Ashland Creek closing in the summer suggests that this summer will be no different.

"Our reports are purely advisory," Stabach said. "It is up to the city if they choose to close a creek for recreation or not."

The RVCOG is asking residents to report failing septic systems to Jackson County Roads, Parks and Planning Services at 774-6900 and any other pollutants to the Department of Environmental Quality at 776-6010. For more information on the creek safety watch or creek advisories, contact the RVCOG at 664-6674 or visit their Web site at .

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