FODC: Deckers Unhealthy

Unsafe levels of bacteria also found in creek’s tributaries

Morgantown Dominion Post
15 November 2011
By Brandy Brubaker

Friends of Deckers Creek (FODC) said its testing of Deckers Creek and several of its tributaries revealed that the waterways contain unsafe levels of fecal coliform bacteria.

FODC said 16 percent of the samples contained more than 400 colony forming units in 100 milliliters (about three ounces). The state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) says, if more than 10 percent of the samples contain more than 400 colony forming units, the stream should be added to a list of streams impaired by pollution, FODC said.

FODC’s polluted samples came from Deckers Creek, Hartman Run, Aarons Creek, Knocking Run, Tibbs Run, Dillan Creek and a stream in Beulah Hollow.

The findings came as no surprise, FODC Water Remediation Director Martin Christ said, but needed to be documented for the DEP’s consideration.

Fecal coliform bacteria in waterways can be caused by failing septic tanks, untreated household sewage, combined sewage overflows, livestock and wildlife, FODC said.

The term “colony” is used to describe a group of bacteria, according to The Dominion Post archives.

Coliform is a general term for bacteria. Fecal coliform is a subgroup of this collection, and is associated with the fecal material of man and other warm-blooded animals.

Christ said Deckers Creek is already on the DEP’s list of pollution-impaired streams because of pH, iron and dissolved alu- minum levels. Additional state help could be provided to clean up the creek if Deckers Creek is also on the list for fecal coliform.

Christ said Deckers Creek pollution makes it sometimes unsafe for fishing and recreation.

Pamela Engelmann, with FODC, urged residents who notice failing septic systems or straight pipes to contact their local health department. Straight pipes are pipes that lead directly from the toilet to a creek.

Monong alia County Health Department spokeswoman Holly Hildreth said they have not been contacted about any septic systems leaking into Deckers Creek, but said anyone who sees anything should contact them to initiate an investigation. Hildreth said fecal coliform’s presence could also be caused by animal waste.

A DEP spokeswoman did not respond in time for this report.