The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

August 31, 2013

Latest water sampling finds most sites have low levels of E. coli

JOPLIN, Mo. — Water samples taken from streams and creeks in the Joplin area just before the Labor Day weekend found that nearly three-quarters of sites that were tested for E. coli were safe for swimming.

Sixteen of the 21 sites sampled Aug. 27 by the Jasper County Health Department and four of the seven sites sampled Aug. 26 by the Newton County Health Department had E. coli levels below the state and federal level of concern.

Many of the streams and creeks are popular swimming holes, especially as temperatures climb into the upper 90s.

Joplin resident Ann Hardin has frequented Center Creek at the Stone’s Corner access for several years as a way to beat the heat. She estimates that in 2013 alone, she has cooled off there more than 20 times with family and friends.

“I would rather come here than a water park because you get the same kind of issues with a public pool,” Hardin said. “You have little kids using the bathroom in the pool, you have all kinds of chemicals put into the water. I’d rather go swimming in Mother Nature’s pool instead.”

Hardin said that she does note any warnings having to do with the water quality.

“Checking to make sure it is safe is just the smart thing to do,” Hardin said. “If it isn’t safe, we don’t come here.”

According to state and federal health departments, a standard higher than 235 colony-forming units, or cfu, of E. coli per 100 milliliters of water means the river or stream is not recommended for swimming or other forms of whole-body contact.

In Jasper County, the elevated sites were on Center Creek in Sarcoxie (365 cfu) and near County Road 180 (281 cfu), but sites downstream at County Road 110, U.S. Highway 71, old Route 66, Stone’s Corner on Missouri Highway 43 and County Road 303 tested safe.

Jones Creek was elevated near County Road 130 (299), but all sites tested along Spring River were safe, with the exception of Francis Street in Carthage (572). Turkey Creek also was elevated at Kenser Road (285) but downstream sites were safe.

In Newton County, testing at Capps Creek and at upper Shoal Creek, near Smackout and Cherry Corner, found safe levels of the bacteria, but Shoal Creek near the Walleye Road bridge was elevated (770.1). Indian Creek was elevated at the Stella City Park (335.2) and at nearby Horton Spring (410.6).

E. coli is a bacteria found in the intestines of warm-blooded animals, including humans, livestock, poultry and wildlife. Some forms of it indicate fecal contamination from septic tank and sewage problems, and agricultural runoff. High levels of it indicate disease-causing organisms may be present.

At high levels, the bacteria can cause illnesses ranging from meningitis to urinary tract infections.

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