Water-main leak may be source of chlorine in creek
Here is an update on creek-related matters from Friends
of Five Creeks:
Thanks to (Councilwoman-elect) Janet Abelson for the help
in finding sampling sites on Cerrito Creek. We determined that the high
concentration of chlorine (and lack of bacteria) in the north fork of
Cerrito Creek (the creek that comes down from Sunset View Cemetery) does
not come from the EB MUD filter plant -- there is no chlorine in the creek
next to Colusa in the cemetery, downstream from the filter plant. The
source probably is not a laundry or similar establishment, since the US
EPA lab, which is testing our samples, did not find free chlorine (such
as would come from bleach), but only total chlorine (which includes chloramines
used by EB MUD).
The most likely source is a water-main leak somewhere near
the underground stretch between Colusa and BART or a storm sewer feeding
into that reach. We have informed the City of El Cerrito and EB MUD. It
remains to be seen whether EB MUD will find the leak.
An El Cerrito-Albany-Richmond committee including neighbors
is making steady progress on a conceptual plan for restoration and a trail
along Cerrito Creek from San Pablo to Pierce. At Friends of Five Creeks
urging, the City of Berkeley protected the bare south banks of Cerrito
Creek north of Albany Hill with matting. This should prevent winter erosion
along the finally-completed sewer main, pending further restoration and
planting with natives next year. Pools stepping Middle Creek down into
Cerrito Creek in a more natural way are expected to be completed by mid-November.
Friends of Five Creeks remains concerned about the invasive waterweed
filling much of the channel near Creekside Park. This could increase flooding
(though the plants may simply "lie down" and let water pass).
Susan Schwartz, co-president, Friends of Five Creeks
See previous report below for background.
Archived Nov. 1999
Testing of Cerrito Creek finds chlorine, help needed for
This summer, Friends of Five Creeks began sampling local
creeks for E. coli (evidence of possible sewage pollution), with the US
EPA lab in Richmond doing the lab work.
On Oct. 19, we started testing Cerrito Creek, and found
a surprising result. There were no bacteria at all, and a fairly high
level of chlorine, where what I'll call the North Fork crosses the Ohlone
Greenway, behind the tire store, south of Fairmont. This is not a good
finding -- it means the creek is lifeless, and possibly harmful to life
farther downstream (where the branches join at Adams Street) or in the
There are several possible causes -- for example, a water
main leak, the EBMUD filter plant releasing toxic amounts of chlorine,
or a business such as a laundry (which uses bleach) releasing wastewater
into the creek.
To pin it down, we need sampling sites farther upstream.
This is the creek that comes down through Sunset View Cemetery and the
EB MUD filter plant. If you have this creek in your back yard, of if you
know of a place where it can be easily reached, can you let me know?
Of course, we are also interested if you know about possible
sources of pollution in this or other creeks, or if you have a site somewhere
else that you would like us to sample.
Thanks for the help.
Susan Schwartz co-president, Friends of Five Creeks
Archived november 1999
Run dates: 1999-11-10 - 1999-11-22