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Evans Creek Bacteria Status

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Evans CreekDownload Report

Evans Creek Bacteria Status 2012 (1.7 MB)

One of the cooling comforts that residents and tourists alike enjoy in summertime is a dip in one of the creeks that grace our region, like Evans Creek as it passes through Palmerton Park. Unfortunately, chronic pollution from fecal bacteria make many of our public waters in the Rogue Basin unsafe for swimming or wading.

For example, the city of Eagle Point has signs posted year-round in a public park to warn people that Little Butte Creek is not safe. Bacteria warning signs on Ashland Creek can mar Lithia Park, the town’s crown jewel, when visitors bring their children to the water’s edge on a scorching August afternoon. And Rogue River has similar signs warning potential swimmers of pollution in Evans Creek. In total, the Rogue Basin has hundreds of stream miles that are listed under the Clean Water Act as impaired for dangerous bacteria pollution levels. 

Rogue Riverkeeper and partners recently released a report on our 2012 bacteria study of Evans Creek, and the results say that water quality is improving.

“While I still wouldn’t take a dip in Evans Creek, it’s gone from bad, to simply not so good,” said Forrest English with Rogue Riverkeeper. “That’s a step in the right direction.”

Last year, volunteers collected stream samples once a week from June through October, the time of year folks are most likely to be in the water and exposed to any harmful bacteria. Rogue Riverkeeper worked closely with the Seven Basins Watershed Council, Southern Oregon University, Jackson County Watermaster’s office and the City of Rogue River on the sampling project. 

After working in previous years on Ashland and Little Butte Creeks, Evans Creek was selected as the next site for Rogue Riverkeeper’s bacteria sampling focus due to data from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) that showed extremely high concentrations of fecal bacteria. The DEQ’s work landed Evans Creek, and many other regional streams, on a national list of waterways that fail to meet water quality standards. These standards are designed to protect our basic right protected by the Clean Water Act to go swimming.

Analysis of the data collected last year showed a marked improvement in water quality. While the stream is still not meeting water quality goals, it has improved in the 8 years since DEQ collected the original data.

Last years study also narrowed down the problem area to between where Maple Creek joins Evans Creek, and Evans Creek’s confluence with the Rogue River. Possible causes of fecal bacteria pollution like this include leaking septic systems, improper management of manure on farmlands, and even illegal dumping. The EPA lists fecal bacterial pollution as the number one source of unsafe waters in the country, and agriculture as the number one source of pollution in the country.

The report suggests some potential reasons for the improvement of Evans Creek’s water quality, including a change in land use and practices throughout the watershed.

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