The pollution in a six-mile stretch of water of lower Bear Creek from Bear Creek Reservoir to the confluence with the South Platte River is being investigated by scientists and residents, with the aim of finding a solution to the problem.
The stretch has been been named on Colorado’s list of polluted waters because of elevated levels of E. Coli, a bacteria excreted by animals, according to information provided by the city of Lakewood.
Using funds from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the nonprofit organization Groundwork Denver will work to come up with a watershed plan for lower Bear Creek, said program manager with Groundwork, Rachel Hansgen.
“The nature of watershed plans are to be very thoughtful and comprehensive when looking at pollution and how to change it,” she said. “We want to look for an option that is financially feasible and easily implementable.”
Hangsen said it is important to find a way to give water more time to get clean before it gets to the South Platte.
Getting public input and making sure the entire process is as transparent as possible is a key part of the work Groundwork is doing, and a steering committee has already been established, and by April there will be a stakeholder group as well.
“We want to be very thoughtful about who the neighbors are that have an interest in this,” Hansgen said. “The steering committee is made up of seven members, and we tried to bring together people who have experience with the land.”
Shakti, who also serves on the Advisory Commission for an Inclusive Community, is on the steering committee, and though its first meeting isn’t until March 19, said she is looking forward to working with the combination of community people and experts in the field.
“I think the first thing we’re going to be doing is understanding the scientific issues that are here, then we’ll want to get community input, and then take all that and find a way to solve the issue,” she said. “I’m glad that the community is involved in how we want our environment to be.”
Hangsen also said that educating and engaging the community is important, and that everyone who has something to say should have the chance.
Groundwork will be hosting a free event in June called Fair on the Bear that will help to celebrate why its so important to have clean water.