Pennington County officials are maintaining a warning against direct-contact use of three segments of Spring Creek near Hill City after follow-up water tests showed continued E. coli problems.

Pennington County Emergency Management Director Dustin Willett issued an advisory on one segment of the creek July 4. The advisory was based on weeks of tests that showed E. coli levels above federal and state standards.

Willett added two more segments of the creek a few days later. The U.S. Forest Service followed that with a warning against direct-contact use of Mitchell Lake, which is immediately downstream from one of those stream segments affected by the advisory.

Willett now says that stream samples taken since those advisories indicate the problem continues.

"The latest results simply confirm the existing advisories," Willett said. "The E. coli levels remain elevated beyond the state and EPA criteria in those segments of Spring Creek previously identified in my advisories."

Officials haven't pinpointed the source of the E. coli, a bacteria within the fecal coliform group, which is connected to human and animal waste.

Included in the advisory are a section from mile post 38 on Highway 16/385 south of Hill City downstream along the Crooked Creek Resort and RV Park; a section from near the Hill City Visitors Center downstream to the inlet of Mitchell Lake; and a section south and east of the intersection of Highway 16 and Highway 385 at Three Forks.

Regular testing of the creek will continue, Willett said.

Contact Kevin Woster at 394-8413 or

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