Mystery Of Boise Pond E. Coli Solved -- It's Not Poop

Aug 11, 2017

Water from a stagnant retention pond near Esther Simplot Pond was seeping into the water meant for swimmers and tainting it with E. coli.
Credit Scott Graf / Boise State Public Radio

E. coli contamination continues plaguing Boise’s Esther Simplot Pond and preventing swimmers from beating the heat by taking a dip. After a summer of searching for the cause of the bacteria, officials may have finally found the source.


Fittingly, figuring out what’s causing the E. coli has been something of a wild goose chase. Initially, tests linked the contamination to dog and goose poop littering beaches at the pond. In response, the city banned dogs and hired someone to scare away the geese. But E. coli readings remained high.

Doug Holloway, the director of Boise Parks and Rec, tells KTVB the high levels of the bacteria can be traced to a retention pond right near water meant for swimming. He says the small basin wasn't draining as it was designed to do and was seeping into Esther Simplot Pond yards away.

Parks and Rec brought in pumps to drain the basin and have seen contaminant numbers drop.

While conditions have improved, Holloway says there needs to be more consistency with the numbers for a longer period before opening the pond to swimmers.

Talks are underway to remedy a design flaw that prevented the retention pond from draining properly.

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