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 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.
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.
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.
Boulder Waterkeeper keeps the focus on E. coli contamination in Boulder Creek in a Daily Camera letter to the editor in the July 6, 2019 edition. While recognizing that there is some risk in recreating in any natural waters, the impaired status of Boulder Creek between the library and 61st street deserves special consideration and raises the potential of information signage to increase public awareness.
The Boulder Waterkeeper initiated their first Boulder Waterkeeper Water Quality Forum on June 10, 2019. The topic of discussion was E coli in Boulder Creek and the overall Boulder Creek Watershed. Representatives from the City of Boulder, Boulder County and the University of Colorado-Boulder gave presentations on their E coli reduction programs.
There was no obvious consensus conclusion to the discussion, but three essential points need to be acknowledged: a) While swimming in any natural water carries risks, the E. coli concentrations in Boulder Creek downstream from 13th street elevate those risks, b) Boulder Creek has been designated an impaired stream by the EPA and CDPHE for over 10 years and there is no obvious path to remediation and delisting, c) any solution will require cooperation and coordination by all stakeholders including the City, the County and CU.
The forum was attended by 40 who raised excellent questions during the 45 minute question and answer period. Boulder Waterkeeper Forums will be conducted quarterly and the next forum will be in the month of September, 2018.
Boulder Waterkeeper has scheduled a Waterkeeper Forum event on Monday June 10, 2019 from 6:00pm to 8:00pm at the main Boulder Library on Arapahoe. The key focus will be on E.coli in Boulder Creek and the risks and plans by the City of Boulder, Boulder County and the University of Colorado to address the impaired status of the Creek. The format will be introductions and 15 minute presentations by each stakeholder. Question and answers will follow the presentations and representatives from the EPA and CDPHE will be available.
Boulder Waterkeeper leads discussion on E.coli impairment of Boulder Creek. Watershed Advocate Art Hirsch identifies health risks to the community and challenges local governments to lead the efforts to improve stream water quality.