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Researchers discover Hinkson Creek now less contaminated

A Columbia creek known to be contaminated is showing signs of improvement.

The Department of Natural Research has been studying Hinkson Creek since 2001. Researchers have been testing 11 sites along the creek; of those 11 sites, half or more usually come back “partially supporting” or showing levels of contamination that don’t meet standards to pass as ok.

That contamination has included high levels of E-coli.

But this year, the Spring 2013 study showed seven of those 11 sites are “fully supporting” or in good shape, and only four are partially supporting.

Dave Michaelson with the Department of Natural Resources said this is the first time in years the creek has started improving this much.

But Hinkson Creek isn’t out of troubled waters yet.

“Sixty-seven percent of the creek is in good shape, but we still want to get to 75% fully supporting before we take it off the [Endangered Waters] list,” Michaelson said.

ABC 17 News asked him what it would take to improve the contamination levels.

“That’s the big question here and that’s what we’re looking at,” he said.

It’s a question that calls for a complicated answer because officials still aren’t sure what the main factor is that’s polluting the water.

“It’s a combination of things and it’s something we’re looking into as part of the Collaborative Management Agreement is what is causing the biology to be borderline and how to get over the hump and be fully supporting all the time,” Michaelson told ABC 17.

The department has been working on best management practices to decrease pollution in the creek since June. Those include a bio retention center, rain barrels, and warning stickers on the storm drains.

For now, Michaelson said the water is safe to wade in and play in — but be sure not to drink it and shower off after.

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