City, state leaders work to solve fecal contamination in area watersheds
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Waller Creek is one of four watersheds in the city of Austin that has "fecal bacteria concentrations" that exceed state standards for human contact.
While it’s a less then pleasant predicament, water quality experts say there's no need for alarm, yet.
"It's not an immediate public health risk or emergency, but it's something we do take seriously and it's something that we do want to proactively address,” Chris Herrington with the City of Austin said. “Which is why the city and state are working together on this process."
Wednesday, officials meet with community stake holders to discuss the problem. Since contamination can come from several sources, experts say there isn't one easy fix.
"It's important to reduce those levels, but they're really not that dangerous," Ron Stein with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality said. "We can't put diapers on raccoons. We can't instruct them to go to potties, but if we take care of the things we can take care of, then we will find that we will have a significant impact on it."
As for the safety of the contaminated waterways, Herrington says use caution when using any untreated waterway.
"Use common sense anytime they recreate in natural bodies of water where the water quality conditions can change rapidly over time," he said.
Over the long term, the city says the contaminant levels in places like Waller Creek will go down.
In addition to Waller Creek, Walnut Creek, Taylor Slough and the Spicewood Tributary of Shoal Creek have elevated levels of fecal bacteria.
The city hopes to have a plan to deal with the contamination in place by the end of next year.