E. Coli levels in Brown County have been reported at an extremely high level.
An E. Coli level of 235 ppm will shut down a public swimming pool while drinking water levels must be at zero. Levels in Bean Blossom area ponds and creeks have recently been reported as high as 240,000 ppm.
The high levels were first detected in ponds and creeks in the Bean Blossom area 10 to 12 years ago and have only continued to rise.
Brown County environmental health supervisor John Kennard says the problem continues to grow because the grants depend more on the financial need rather than the environmental need.
“For about 14 years now we have been trying to figure out how to make the need greater,” he says. “The way you can make the need greater is you have to expand that service area.”
The Bean Blossom Regional Sewer District, which was established in 2006, recently agreed to provide countywide services, but IDEM spokesperson Amy Hartsock says it is simply to address future needs in areas that are not currently served by a district.
She says in the meantime, residents in the Bean Blossom area should follow general safety precautions.
“Avoid drinking or getting water splashed in your mouth,” Hartsock says. “And if you’re fishing, or boating, or swimming in a lake, or river or stream, wash very well. Wash your hands; wash any skin that comes into contact with the water.”
While residents wait for a new disposal system, officials plan to look at alternative solutions.