Development of a fecal contamination monitoring and control strategy in upper Fountain Creek, Colorado

Science Center Objects

Fountain Creek is a high-gradient stream on the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. The headwaters of Fountain Creek drain Pikes Peak, a major destination for tourism. Fountain Creek is a drinking-water source for the City of Colorado Springs, Colorado, and is used for irrigation, recreation, and other purposes between Colorado Springs and the confluence with the Arkansas River at Pueblo, Colorado. In 2008, Fountain Creek was placed on the Colorado 303(d) list of impaired streams because of fecal contamination. Colorado uses a 30-day geometric mean standard of 126 Escherichia coli per 100 milliliters as its management goal for recreational waters. The objective of this study was to identify major sources of Escherichia coliin upper Fountain Creek during exceedances of the State recreational water standard. To meet this objective, a new approach was developed and tested that uses genetic marker analysis for microbial source tracking, along with other information, to evaluate potential contributions of fecal contamination from various sources.