Bacteria levels in water coming down northern Utah mountain streams this spring are rising but do not yet pose a health hazard.
But Salt Lake City Public Utilities Director LeRoy Hooton Jr. warned the Wasatch Front Regional Council's water supply steering committee Tuesday that the situation seems bound to get worse before it gets better.Hooton said the average coliform, or fecal bacteria, counts from streams flowing into the Salt Lake Valley have increased 139 percent over the past two years.
In addition, three ground wells serving the Salt Lake Valley are now contaminated with poly chloroethylene, a cleaning solvent.
Recent studies show the trend of deteriorating water quality is not confined to Salt Lake County.
Both the Weber River in Weber County and the Bear River in Box Elder County have heavy nutrient loads in them that boost growth of algae. Algae destroys oxygen needed by fish and gives water an unpleasant odor and taste.
Water experts agreed the primary cause of stream deterioration is northern Utah's burgeoning population and the increasing use of canyon areas for recreation.