By John Schaffner

The Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper and representatives of the city’s Department of Watershed Management have begun a project to attempt to locate the source of high pollution levels in Tanyard Creek as it flows through Tanyard Creek Park.

The cooperative project started June 9. It was supposed to have begun in May, but the city’s inspectors were held up on another project.

On the first day of the project, the Riverkeeper organization’s Technical Program Director Jason Ulseth and DWM inspectors walked from the Tanyard Creek Park to the Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) unit’s gates at I-75, pulling water samples out of the stream and sources flowing into the urban stream along the way.

Ulseth said he had analyzed his samples for E. coli bacteria. A sample taken at one source flowing into the stream registered 11,000 MPN/100 milliliters Another sample registered 7.000 MPN/100 milliliters. That was before they became diluted by the stream water. MPN stands for “most probable number” and is a standard measurement of bacteria.

“The levels recorded by samples taken from the stream within Tanyard Creek Park registered 670 MPN/100 mi,” Ulseth said. That still is almost three times the 235 MPN/100 milliliters the Environmental Protection Agency considers standard for recreational water quality.

As of June 10, he said he had not received the test results from city DWM’s samples analysis.

Ulseth said a sample taken in Tanyard Creek Park the last week in May showed a level of 18,000 MPN/100 milliliters “without any rain.”

“So there appears to be a intermittent source somewhere that we need to find,” he said.

Ulseth said the group had not determined what the sources are for the high readings as of yet.

“At this point we are isolating the non-problem areas so that we can concentrate on the problem areas and then isolate the actual causes,” he explained.

Other readings during May were 4,410 MPN/100 milliliters on May 5; 758 on May 13; and 1,140 on May 20.