Recent E. coli sampling has Seattle officials warning the public to keep their distance from Thornton Creek.

The samples showed unacceptable levels of E. coli in 30 of the 46 test sites in the creek basin.

Seattle Public Utilities inspectors also used an experimental test that shows if the E. coli is being generated by humans. All 40 of those samples came back positive. Human waste is somehow getting into the creek and in some places it is 60 times acceptable levels.

SPU mapped the areas of high readings and will now walk those segments in search of pathways for the E. coli to enter the creek. It could be from ruptured or leaking sewers, incorrectly connected sewer lines or illegal dumping of RV sewer systems in storm drains. Inspectors suspect it s a combination of those sources and more.

Inspectors say tracking down the sources will be difficult and repairing damaged lines will be expensive.

70,000 to 80,000 people live in the creek basin and many, mostly children, often wade or splash around in the creek. SPU and Public Health officials are advising people to avoid contact with Thornton Creek and every other urban creek for that matter.

High exposure to human bacteria can cause serious health problems. If you do contact the water you are advised to thoroughly clean yourself up and avoid touching your face or food until you do.

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