FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Oct. 8, 2013
DENVER—Results of water sampling conducted Sept. 26 by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment show no evidence of pollutants from oil and gas spills in rivers and streams affected by flooding. The department collected samples at 29sites in eight different rivers affected by the flood. (See attached maps.)
The sample results show high levels of E. coli in some areas of the South Platte Basin. The highest concentrations of E. coli were sampled in the Boulder Creek and Big Thompson River watersheds.
Dr. Larry Wolk, executive director and chief medical officer at the department, said, “Although much attention was focused on spills from oil and gas operations, it is reassuring the sampling shows no evidence of oil and gas pollutants. There were elevated E. coli levels, as we expected, in some locations.”
E. coli indicates human and animal bacteria from untreated sewage that can make people sick. However, outbreaks of communicable diseases or illnesses after floods seldom are seen and have not been reported with the recent flooding in Colorado.
Five public drinking water systems remain on boil or bottled water advisories: Jamestown, Lyons, Mountain Meadow Water Supply, Lower Narrows Campground and Sylvan Dale Ranch.
In addition to testing water samples for pollutants associated with oil and gas spills and bacteria, the department also tested for metals that could have been released from mining areas. An analysis of these samples is ongoing. The department will release the results once the analysis is completed.
The department will conduct additional sampling to determine any changes in pollutant levels.
The department’s Flood Resources web page provides helpful information for people recovering from the flood.