The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Carthage, Jasper County

July 16, 2009

Tribe urges swimmers to stay clear of Lost Creek, Spring River for now

By Derek Spellman

Bacteria levels in parts of Spring River and Lost Creek are high enough that the Eastern Shawnee Tribe is urging swimmers to stay out of those waters.

Parts of Center and Turkey creeks also have showed elevated bacteria levels in Jasper County.

Samples drawn from the two waterways in northeastern Ottawa County, Okla., showed excess levels of the E. coli bacteria and prompted a swimming advisory until further tests show the levels have declined, according to a release issued Thursday by the tribe.

The state has set a standard of 235 colonies per 100 milliliters of water. Samples taken earlier this week from Lost Creek near the Oklahoma-Missouri state line showed 2,419 colonies, while samples from Spring River at the Highway 10 bridge in Ottawa County had 866 colonies.

Elevated E. coli levels typically are found after heavy rains. High levels of the bacteria indicate the presence of pathogenic microorganisms that increase the risk for illness. Symptoms of such illness include nausea, vomiting, stomach ache, diarrhea, headache and fever. Minor swimming illnesses include ear, eye, nose and throat infections.

The Eastern Shawnee Tribe conducts biweekly tests of the waters for E. coli.

The Jasper County Health Department also conducts regular tests of local waterways, largely consisting of points on Center Creek, Spring River and Turkey Creek.

Samples drawn this week from 21 sites on six waterways in the county showed that 11 of those sites had colonies in excess of the 235-colony threshold, according to the Health Department.

Two points on Turkey Creek — specifically at Lone Elm and Fox Bluff — showed more than 2,400 colonies each, while another at Kenser Road had more than 1,553 colonies. A site on Spring River near County Road 270 showed more than 435 colonies, while four points along Center Creek showed bacteria levels as low as 238.2 and as high as 1,046.2.

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Carthage, Jasper County