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Dangerous Levels of E. coli Found in Hominy Creek

ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- Off the charts levels of E. coli in Hominy Creek called for the riverkeeper to investigate further.

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality issued a notice of violation to a dairy farm in connection to those levels one week before Christmas.

Right now, the French Broad Riverkeeper, Hartwell Carson, says the Hominy Creek site is the worst of his 22 sites for recreational use, like fishing and tubing.

"We take that data and inform the public where's safe and where isn't safe, but we also use it to track down some of the worst sites and try to determine why they're bad," Carson said.

The dangerous levels of E. coli were found when Carson and his colleagues were routinely checking bacterial levels at Hominy Creek.

"There are safe limits, and what we were finding was hundreds if not thousands of times beyond the safe limit," Carson said. "You can definitely get sick from swimming in a stream with high levels of E. coli."

Carson says one of the sources is Crowell Farms and its cows that he says have access to Hominy Creek.

"If that lagoon system is managed properly, it's OK. But when the state went back to inspect upon our complaint, they found a pipe that was discharging animal waste straight into the ditch into the river," Carson said. "It was obviously animal waste, foamy, dark colored, smelly."

Carson says he'll continue to monitor Crowell Farms and Hominy Creek to make sure improvements are made.

The owner of Crowell Farms declined to comment Tuesday afternoon.

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