Schnebly Hill Project Designed to Reduce E. Coli in Oak Creek

Aug 10, 2016

Federal and state officials will spend a quarter-million-dollars to try to reduce the level of E. coli in a section of Oak Creek near Sedona. As Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, the creek is considered “impaired” by the Environmental Protection Agency because of high levels of the potentially deadly bacteria.

Swimmers on a section of Oak Creek near Red Rock Crossing in Sedona.
Credit Ryan Heinsius

The project will repair existing structures and install new ones to prevent erosion near Schnebly Hill Road. Officials with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality have identified that area as having E. coli-laden soil. Although it’s naturally occurring, it can still cause contamination.

Schnebly Hill is a popular site for recreation and cattle grazing. ADEQ says fecal matter from humans, cattle and wildlife is also contributing to Oak Creek’s E. coli spike.

During monsoon season, runoff can carry more of the bacteria downstream. The EPA designates a waterway as “impaired” when it exceeds the pollutant limits of state and local governments and the federal Clean Water Act.