Boulder Waterkeeper submitted a formal response to the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment letter stating that they have determined CU discharges into Boulder Creek are not ‘illicit discharges’.
The fundamental message of the Boulder Waterkeeper response is that underlying the discussion of terminology is the broader and more significant issue of impairment, responsibility and commitment to remediation. The University of Colorado is discharging significant levels of E. coli into Boulder Creek, the creek is impaired and all the stakeholders have a responsibility to assess, monitor and work to improve water quality.
Boulder Waterkeeper calls out six actions that CDPHE needs to take to hold CU accountable to their explicit and implicit obligations and to preserve and protect the integrity of the Boulder Creek watershed.
Boulder Waterkeeper Response to CDPHE Illicit Discharge Determination September 10, 2019
Boulder Waterkeeper attended the initial Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE) work group developing a narrative policy on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contaminants. Attended by over 60 individuals representing government agencies, municipalities, airports, industry, legal, water treatment, environment advocates and concerned citizens the work group is targeting a proposed policy for PFAS monitoring and management that will be presented for adoption at the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission in May 2020. PFAS are a emerging contaminate related to fire retardants and household products that the EPA has declared toxic. There are two known PFAS sites in the Boulder Creek watershed, the extent and severity of contamination statewide is unknown. CDPHE is moving forward to engage the public with a fine balance between attention and anxiety.
Boulder Waterkeeper is issuing a water quality based complaint against Zak Dirt the permit holder of the above mention general construction stormwater permits. Zak Dirt is the major CDOT contractor for the State Highway 119 Project. It is apparent that erosion control measures are not adequate as per the CDPHE General Stormwater Permit requirements. Sediment in the creek pose a significant risk to trout spawning in Boulder Creek.
An observation was made on September 5, 2019 of unusually high sediment at Eben Fine Park and other locations along Boulder Creek.
On September 8, 2019 a drive through of the construction area showed poor erosion control measures being instituted by the Contractor with large amounts of open exposed sediment near Boulder Creek.
Boulder Waterkeeper is requesting the Army Corps of Engineers and Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment visit the site to assess the environmental impact and permit compliance.
Boulder Daily Camera September 15, 2019: Boulder Advocates flag sediment’s presence in Boulder Creek
Boulder Waterkeeper Watershed Advocate Art Hirsch addressed the CU Board of Regents at their quarterly board meeting on September 12, 2019 at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus. During public comment Art discussed the impaired status of the creek, the situation and history of the CU campus outfalls and proposed steps to address remediation. CU Chancellor Philip DiStefano responded that the CU is in full compliance to the CDPHE permit. Art confirmed that Boulder Waterkeeper does not agree. The Chairman of the Board of Regents stated that additional information and discussion is required.
Dr. Larry Barber of the USGS and Dr. Alan Vajda of CU Denver delivered challenging and troubling presentations (The Boulder Creek Watershed Natural Laboratory and Landscape Endocrinology) on the presence of emerging contaminants in the Boulder Creek and other watersheds at the Boulder Waterkeeper Watershed Forum. Biologic and pharmaceutical chemicals that may not have been fully understood when the Clean Water Act was passed in 1972 are emerging as significant issues of concern for human and aquatic life. The number of new chemicals and the range of impacts are just now being researched. Boulder Creek is a leading site for investigations and analysis.
Students from Summit Middle School in Boulder under the guidance of Jennifer Perlick, Adam Perkins and Boulder Waterkeeper conducted a creek cleanup of Boulder Creek. Approximately 50 individuals, collected over 500 pounds of trash including cans, bottles, plastic, metal, clothing, sharps, electronics and cigarette butts between 30th Street and 13th Street. Both the creek and the students benefited from the event.
Boulder Waterkeeper is hosting a Watershed Forum for the community to learn about and participate in a discussion regarding emerging contaminants in Boulder Creek. Local experts will present issues and status on chemical and endocrine contaminants in the creek and their impact on human health. The public is invited to participate at Boulder JCC on Monday September 9th, 2019 from 6:00pm to 8:00pm.
Watershed Forum Flier – September 9, 2019 6:00pm Boulder JCC 6007 Oreg Avenue Boulder, Colorado
Front Range Anglers (https://frontrangeanglers.com/) join the Boulder Waterkeeper community with a generous donation. With the help and support of local organizations like Front Range Anglers Boulder Waterkeeper will be able to continue and increase efforts around water sampling, community outreach and coordination of Watershed Advocates to preserve and protect the Boulder Creek Watershed.
Thank you .
Boulder Waterkeeper has issued a formal complaint to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment detailing an illicit discharge into Boulder Creek. The Federal Clean Water Act provides a process for citizen reporting of illicit discharges. Boulder Waterkeeper is using this process to demand a response from CU regarding an illicit discharge that is contributing to E. coli levels above standards in Boulder Creek.
CDPHE CU Illicit Discharge Letter August 8, 2019
CDPHE CU Illicit Discharge Press Release August 9, 2019
On July 11th Boulder Waterkeeper Watershed Advocates Art Hirsch and Ted Ross collected water samples from three locations in Boulder Creek and sent them to a laboratory to test for the levels of E. coli contamination. The locations were on the south side of the creek between 13th street and Folsom. Results will be available by the end of July.