How Clean is the Water? Visit Swim Guide for Current Conditions

In the course of our work protecting clean water, we hear many questions from the public about water quality. How clean is the water in the Rogue where I raft? Why is the water in Emigrant Reservoir so nasty? These are both questions that we can answer with general information, but often there is limited access to recent data to give a specific answer about the water quality in a particular location.

Rogue Riverkeeper has spent a fair bit of time monitoring local streams for fecal bacteria, turbidity, pH, temperature, and conductivity with a number of great partners throughout our region. Our past efforts have documented steadily declining water quality throughout the Little Butte Creek watershed, improving water quality on Evans Creek, and highlighted the source of pollution on Ashland Creek so that steps could be taken to improve the situation.

We are doing weekly water quality sampling from June through October at a number of popular recreation hotpots, such as Emigrant Reservoir, Lost Creek Reservoir, the Applegate River near Ruch, the Illinois River near Selma, the Rogue River near Gold Hill and Grants Pass, as well as integrating City of Ashland testing on Ashland Creek.

Afterwards, we take the samples back to the water quality lab in our office to find out how much fecal bacteria is in the water at those places. In other words, does the water at these sites meet state health standards? We investigate, then then publish updates on our website, email list, and the Waterkeeper Swim Guide, a website and mobile app (for iPhone and Android) that provides up to date information on water quality for an expanding network of beaches and rivers throughout North America. As always, our data is also provided to state and federal agencies and used to guide decisions that affect our watershed.

Even with the serious drought that is reducing stream flows and concentrating pollution throughout our region, we’ve been pleasantly surprised so far. Warnings are now posted on Ashland Creek due to elevated bacteria, and Lost Creek Reservoir had a toxic algae scare in June. As this newsletter went to press, the other sites have tested safe so far.

Stay tuned for more updates. Summer isn’t over yet and with toxic algae in the news from the Klamath River, the Great Lakes, and the Gulf of Mexico, it’s important to monitor public waters and work to keep them clean.

Swim Guide Locations: View current conditions on our website or with the Swim Guide App. Then check out your local swimming hole, fishing spot, or rafting put-in and keep enjoying the Rogue River and all its tributaries.