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Bishop Creek contamination could pose health risks

July 9, 2014

The Inyo County Board of Supervisors convened a workshop on Tuesday, July 1, to address the results of a fecal coliform bacteriological monitoring study of Bishop Creek conducted by the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board. The workshop was attended by representatives of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the City of Bishop, the Bishop Paiute Tribe, County of Inyo and other interested parties. Study findings showed frequently high levels of bacterial concentrations, exceeding both Water Board and US EPA water quality criteria, at some locations of Bishop Creek. State personnel indicated that Bishop Creek would soon be added to the State’s 301(d) listing of impaired water bodies.
Sampling was conducted in 2012 and 2013 as part of the Lahontan Surface Water Ambient Monitoring Program (SWAMP). More information regarding this program can be found at http://www.swrcb.ca.gov/lahontan/water_issues/programs/swamp/ . While the sources of the Bishop Creek contamination remain unknown at this time, the recurring high concentrations indicate potential risks to human health for water contact recreation. Further analyses are being conducted at this time in an effort to determine the source(s) of the contamination.
The workshop concluded with the following recommended actions:
• Provide public awareness of the situation through the media.
• Provide signage along Bishop Creek notifying persons of the contamination and advising against body contact water activities in at least one location. These advisories may be considered applicable for all sections of Bishop Creek between Mumy Lane and where the canal crosses East Line Street.
• Advise the public to discourage your pets from drinking out of Bishop Creek.
• Identify the source(s) of contamination and implement remediation plans. This will not occur until later this summer, after the microbial source tracking results are available.
• Encourage residents with horses or other domestic animals, and who live adjacent to Bishop Creek, to evaluate and improve their animal waste management practices.
For more information, please contact the Inyo County Environmental Health Services Department at (760) 873-7867.

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