Elevated levels of E. coli in Fish Creek and Flat Creek are leading Teton County's health officials to put up signs to warn swimmers and float-tubers of the potentially harmful bacteria in the waters.
The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality rules state that in all waters that are used for primary contact recreation – including swimming, float-tubing, or in some manner being fully submerged in the water – during the summer recreation season, concentrations of E. coli bacteria shall not exceed a geometric mean of 126 organisms per 100 milliliters during any consecutive 60-day period.
Portions of Fish Creek have exceeded the limit, as have portions of Flat Creek that run through the South Park Feedgrounds before the creek joins the Snake River.
The Teton District Board of Health met on Tuesday and voted to place signage on portions of the creeks, according to a press release today.
"Signage will be posted in the next week near locations used by float tubers to put in on Fish Creek, specifically near Hunt Bridge and on the U.S. Forest Service property directly upstream from Hunt Bridge," the press release stated.
"Signage will also be posted on Flat Creek near the Hay Barn Bridge on the South Park Feedgrounds, where float tubers regularly put in to Flat Creek," officials said. "Signage will also be posted at the swimming hole at the confluence of Flat Creek and the Snake River on Von Gontard’s Landing."
The signage will state that it is a Public Advisory Impaired Waterway and that bacterial levels in these waters at times exceed recommended Department of Environmental Quality Standards.
"It is recommended that swimming or float tubing in these waters should be avoided," Rachael Wheeler, public health response coordinator, said in the press release.
For more information on potential health issues from and possible causes of the E. coli in Fish Creek and Flat Creek, pick up the weekend edition of the Jackson Hole Daily, free on newsstands and in establishments around town.