Environmentalists again flag E.coli concerns in Boulder Creek; letter asks CU Boulder to take problem ‘seriously’


Environmental advocates concerned about the presence of E.coli in Boulder Creek are renewing the call for greater attention to the issue, and this time their focus is aimed more directly at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Art Hirsch, a retired environmental engineer, self-described watershed advocate and member of the group Boulder Waterkeeper, has sent CU Boulder officials, including Chancellor Phil DiStefano, a complaint by certified mail concerning what Hirsch alleges are “illicit discharges” entering the creek from the university’s storm sewer system.

Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer

A discharge point of drainage from the University of Colorado Boulder campus near the Folsom Street bridge and the Boulder Creek path.

“Boulder Waterkeeper expects that CU will take this complaint and observations seriously. We expect that the sources of these illicit discharges will be investigated and mitigation efforts initiated immediately to stop continued discharges of E.coli from entering Boulder Creek,” the letter, signed by Hirsch, states.

E.coli is a bacterial marker for fecal pollution, which lives in the intestines of humans, wildlife, cattle and dogs — but it is not always harmful to humans. However, one strand, known as 0157:H7, can cause abdominal cramps, diarrhea, vomiting and even life-threatening conditions.

The portion of Boulder Creek that qualifies as impaired, according to Boulder Waterkeeper, runs from 13th street on the west to the confluence with South Boulder Creek near 61st Street on the east, and Hirsch’s letter, dated Wednesday, focuses largely on what is known as outfall C, a CU stormwater discharge point shared by CU Boulder and the city of Boulder just west of the Folsom Avenue bridge.

Although the outfall C location is shared by the university and the city, Hirsch’s group pins responsibility for the discharges there primarily on CU Boulder, because it is on the university’s property, on the creek’s south bank.



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