Under section 303(d) of the 1972 Clean Water Act, states, territories, and authorized tribes are required to develop lists of impaired waters – waters that do not meet water quality standards. The law requires that these jurisdictions establish priority rankings for waters on the lists and develop TMDLs for these waters.

The (Click here) Upper Fountain Creek E. coli study was initiated because E. coli was listed on the 2006 303d List for Upper Fountain Creek. E. coli is a type of bacteria normally found in the human and animal gastrointestinal tracts and is an indicator of other illness-causing bacteria and pathogens in the waterway. This contaminant is listed as a high-priority parameter because of public-health-related issues and concerns.

This study documented the locations, magnitude and sources of fecal contamination in a 12-mile stretch of Upper Fountain Creek from Green Mountain Falls to the confluence of Fountain Creek with Monument Creek in Colorado Springs.

This study was a collaborative effort funded by the United States Geological Survey (USGS), Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), the City of Colorado Springs, and Colorado Springs Utilities.

The study began in 2007 and ended in the fall of 2009. E. coli samples were taken at 16 sites, after which five samples sites were selected to track fecal contamination in more depth.

Birds were identified as a probable source of fecal contamination through the use of microbial source tracking methods. These conclusions were validated and supported through water quality testing of nitrogen, phosphorous and contaminants commonly found in wastewater. Based on these results, stakeholders are working together to identify strategies that can be used to reduce the fecal contamination impacts from birds. As funding becomes available, other stream segments within the Fountain Creek Watershed that are currently listed as water-quality impaired for E. coli will also be investigated to determine possible sources.

This handout was developed that provides a summary of the study and conclusions.