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Tahlequah looks at new testing methods to tackle E. Coli at Town Branch Creek

Posted at 4:25 PM, Sep 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-27 19:26:01-04

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. -- Town Branch Creek is on the national "dirty water list" for E. Coli levels, a title Tahlequah is looking to change.

Testing started last year, and this summer the city realized the numbers weren't improving. The city planning department put up signs asking people to stay out of the water. It's a request the public is starting to ignore.

"I wouldn't let them in at first and they ended up sneaking around and getting in it," Ruth Hummingbird said about her five grandkids.

Abut 126 E. Coli colonies is the recommended safe level to play in, and it takes 236 to close the beach. This summer the creek topped 11,000 colonies, a number so high it went past the testing limit.

The headwaters start near the United Methodist Children's Home. They've scoped and repaired all sewer lines. Now Tahlehquah is doing DNA testing to narrow down a source.

"They do have a potential other source and it's geese. They have some resident geese, about 70 on the property which we know can contribute to the surface water," director of planning Clinton Johnson said.

Town Branch creek runs through the city, with E. Coli levels getting lower as the water moves past downtown. But parents tell 2 Works for You they're still nervous to let children play here.

"When one child gets sick, they all do and I'm up all hours of the night trying to take care of babies that are throwing up and all of that," Kimberly Killsnitht said.

The planning department expects results by the end of next week, and parents are hopeful for a solution by next summer.

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