City Council Inspects Watershed Near Elk Creek
S. John Collins / Baker City Herald New fencing around the Elk Creek diversion dam in the Baker City Watershed, and last summer’s cryptosporidium outbreak, are issues discussed by City Council members, staff, news reporters and others who attended Monday's meeting in the mountains about 10 miles west of town.
By Pat Caldwell
To label Monday’s tour by Baker City Council members and city officials of the Elk Creek watershed diversion point as anti-climactic might be an overstatement but the expedition did put to rest some lingering questions regarding fence work around the area.
Ostensibly the tour was about dispelling criticism of lack of progress on a city-built fence around the area where the city diverts water from Elk Creek into its supply pipeline.
But the excursion also centered on demonstrating that city leaders consider the safety of the town’s water to be vital.
The Elk Creek fence issue sprouted into a flash-point matter last month after Mayor Richard Langrell asserted portions of the fence were in disrepair.
At the time, City Manager Mike Kee avowed that city crews had been working on the fence area since last autumn and huge swaths of it were, in fact, rebuilt.
Monday’s half-day tour showcased portions of a newly-built fence that protects the Elk Creek diversion on three sides. Elk Creek is one of several streams the city taps in its watershed and it became the epicenter of concern last summer during the city’s crypto crisis. One water sample acquired from Elk Creek during the crisis contained levels of crypto sufficient to trigger sickness.
Cattle had crossed the fence and entered the watershed near Elk Creek. A few samples of cattle feces were tested but did not contain crypto.
See more in Wednesday's issue of the Baker City Herald.