Source of Murky Plume in Yuba River May Have Been Found

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NEVADA COUNTY — Nevada County officials say they may have an idea of what caused dangerous levels of E. coli in the South Yuba River last Friday.

“So, what you saw is you saw this sort of opaque, yellowy-brown part of the river,” said Melinda Booth, the director of the South Yuba River Citizens League. “The Yuba River has a lot of visitors every year. The numbers range from about 750,000, upwards of a million visitors a year.”

Booth said a volunteer first notified the group about a plume growing along the river last Friday.

Officials from Nevada County, the Department of Wildlife and the California Water Resources Control Board said crews were able to spot a possible source at a property located on Kilham Mine Road near Enterprise Mine Road in Nevada City.

“We worked with California Highway Patrol on Friday night where they flew upstream and identified an area on the Yuba River that appeared to be the start of the plume,” said Environmental Health Department Director Amy Irani.

Officials said the property, located in a remote area, showed several code enforcement violations.

“We made contact with the property owner on Tuesday morning and they’re very cooperative,” Irani explained.

A spokesperson with the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board issued a statement to FOX40 saying:

Our staff have been working closely with the County and the other state agencies in response to this incident. We have taken water samples and done an inspection of one property bordering the Yuba River in the area of the incident. We are still in the investigative phase of our work and are committed to finding out exactly what happened.

Earlier this week, county officials issued a “no swim advisory” after the unknown sediments appeared, along with dangerous levels of E. coli. It’s something that concerned Booth.

“There’s a possibility that the dirt, whatever it is, the sediment that’s in the river is going to contain toxins,” Booth said.

While officials are still investigating, Booth said she wants people to keep their eyes open for anything suspicious on the river.

“When you have an event on the river and you don’t know what it is, you want to make sure everybody stays safe,” Booth said.

Officials are still asking people who may have been exposed to the affected waters to contact their local physician.

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