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Austin Dog Lovers Unite!  Bull Creek Park is in Danger of losing it's off-leash status due to elevated e. coli levels in the water.  One factor in e. coli is the failure to responsibly clean up dog waste.  Below are materials I have received from Debra Bailey of BCDOG-Bull Creek Dog Off leash Group.  Please help in keeping Austin Weird, Green, Beautiful, Clean, and Dog Friendly!




Due to the continued levels of e-coli in the creek, Bull Creek District Park is in danger of losing the off leash area (ola).  The water quality testing and e-coli problem has been going on for over a year but the City of Austin has recently escalated its actions. 


Several City of Austin departments are currently conducting meetings to review the water quality data and are making decisions on the future of this park and its off leash area with out including YOU, the stakeholders and users of the park! 


This is a public park and the possibility of closing the off leash area should involve the public.  Bull Creek Dog Off Leash Group-BCDOG asks that you take a moment and email or call the following people to ask for public involvement in the review of this park and the off leash area.  We are asking for public involvement thru a taskforce so that the source of the e-coli can be determined and find possible solutions.


Parks & Recreation Department Director

Sara Hensley                                                      


City Council Members

Lee Leffingwell-Mayor                                                 974-2250

Chris Riley-Place 1                                                       974-2260

Mike Martinez-Place 2 & Mayor Pro Tem                    974-2264

Randi Shade-Place 3                                                    974-2255        

Laura Morrison-Place 4                                                974-2258

Bill Spelman-Place 5                                                     974-2256

Sheryl Cole-Place 6                                                      974-2266

*city of austin website                                         

*group email                                           


Watershed Protection Department Asst. Director

-Nancy McClintock                                                      974-2652



Parks & Recreation Board                               

Linda Guerrero-Chair

Danette Chimenti-Vice Chair

Marilyn Bostick-Board Member

Jeff Francell-Board Member

Sara Hatfield Marler-Board Member

Mark Vane-Board Member

*board meetings are generally held the 4th Tuesday of every month, check city of austin calendar for changes



Donít let decisions be made behind closed doors about your park, get involved.  Stay up to date by becoming a fan of Bull Creek Dog Off Leash Group-BCDOG on Facebook or sign up for our Yahoo group.


We need volunteers to help spread the word about the OLA.  If interested please email Debra at baileysolutions       at 





We will be holding an education day at the off leash area of Bull Creek District Park with the goal of educating park goers of the potential closing of the off leash area of Bull Creek District Park, the problem of ecoli in the creek due to dog poop and encourage new membership for BCDOG-Bull Creek Dog Off Leash Group. 

BCDOG-Bull Creek Dog Off Leash Group Education Day
Saturday 9/20 from 11:30am - 1:30pm
This will be an organized event to have members of BCDOG educate park goers of our group and the potential closing of the off leash area due to high bacteria levels from dog waste.  We will hand out poop bags, trash bags, 'scoop the poop' handbills, and encourage new membership to BCDOG in order to save our park.  For questions contact Debra Bailey 751-6157.


Give a Bark for Cleaner Parks!

Bacteria, particularly that associated with pet feces, has become a problem in some of Austinís parks and creeks. In order to preserve all uses of the parks, including swimming, wading, and the off-leash pet areas, we need your help.

What is the problem with pet waste?

Human illnesses such as dysentery and giardiasis can result from ingesting bacteria-laden water. Your pet could also be at risk of parvo and roundworms.

Water quality studies along Bull Creek show high bacteria levels in the water particularly in the off-leash area of Bull Creek District Park.050100150200250300350Bull @ St.EdwardsBull @ Loop360/LakewoodBull @ DistrictParkBull above WestBullBull @ MouthMean E. coli (col/100mL)State Contact Recreation Standard


An owner or handler shall promptly remove and sanitarily dispose of feces left on public or private property by a dog or cat being handled by the person, other than property owned by the owner or handler of the dog or cat. Maximum Fine: $500

Why should I worry about leaving one

"deposit" in the park?

Imagine if all dog owners in Austin didnít scoop the poop. Each dog creates about a half pound of excrement per day. With an estimated 100,000 dogs in Austin, thatís 50,000 pounds of dog waste deposited throughout the city each day! A small amount of dog waste in a waterbody can make that water unsafe for swimming.

What can I do? Scoop the Poop!

Bring it! Bring your own bags on your walk or grab one provided in one of the mutt mitt dispensers in the park.

Bag it! Use the bag as a glove to scoop the waste, then turn the bag inside out and tie to seal. No mess.

Dispose of it! Place the bag in the trash can.


1.      What is the trend of E. coli in the water?

E. coli concentrations are not changing in Bull Creek District Park based on all available non-storm to date.  E. coli concentrations are increasing at the upstream Loop 360 site, and recent samples are the highest non-storm concentrations yet measured at that site.  No regular monitoring by COA has occurred in the park since the end of the education campaign effect assessment in April 2008.


2.      What is the trend of E. coli in the sediment?  Why is sediment important?

Bacteria in sediment at the park are greater than background levels from other Bull Creek sites.  Bacteria in sediment at the park appear to be highly variable over time.  Bacteria in sediment at Loop 360 upstream of the park are increasing over time and have been greater than park sediments in last 2 sample events.  Sediment is important because it may act as a ďrefugeĒ for fecal bacteria in streams.  Re-suspension of bacteria attached to sediments may re-introduce bacteria to the water column.  Removal of sediment from the stream is not a reasonable mitigation strategy in this case. 


3.      How do these compare to other Austin creeks, especially during other dry periods?

The bacteria in sediment sampling is a new experiment for the City and has only been conducted in Bull Creek.  Thus, Bull Creek sediment bacteria concentrations cannot be compared to other Austin creeks.  In regards to E. coli concentrations in water, the long-term geometric mean for Bull District Park is worse than 65% of 117 other sites routinely monitored by COA as part of our Environmental Integrity Index.  The relative ranking of Bull District Park bacteria to other sites may not be relevant since the park currently exceeds the State of Texas contact recreation standard and people swim and wade in the creek. 


4.      What is the decay rate of E. coli in water?

Decay of bacteria are frequently modeled using first-order decay:


Ct/Co = e-kt  (C is concentration, t is time, k is first-order decay rate)


Decay rates are highly dependent upon temperature and exposure to sunlight.  Literature values for first-order E. coli decay rates in warm water (23ļC) are typically 0.5 day-1.  LCRA data from Gilleland Creek suggest even higher decay rates (0.71 day-1) but are unadjusted for temperature.  COA bacteria monitoring of Williamson Creek following a large and on-going sewage leak in Williamson Creek demonstrated a return to background concentrations within 1 week of the problem being corrected.  COA and USGS bacteria monitoring following storm events show return to background concentrations within 1-3 days.  In summary, fecal bacteria decay quickly when outside of the intestinal tract of warm-blooded animals.  


5.      What is the decay rate of E. coli in sediment?

There are no direct measurements of sediment bacteria decay that follow the same method COA has been using in Bull Creek to collect and analyze the samples.  Bacteria can remain viable in sewage sludge solids for very long periods of time, and decay in sludge is related to moisture content and temperature.  COA data has documented increases in sediment bacteria concentrations within a one week period in the absence of significant runoff events at the park. 


6.      What percent of E. coli is caused by pet waste and how much is from human waste from dirty diapers left by the creek by weekend visitors?

It is extremely difficult to directly quantify differential source contributions.  Bacterial source tracking using genetic methods would take 1-2 years and cost approximately $150,000.  A similar study in an urban Houston water body demonstrated that the largest contributor of fecal bacteria was domestic cats and dogs.   


7.      What is the measured E. coli trend since the BCDOG campaign began in May 2008?

There has been no regular COA sampling in the park since the end of the education campaign monitoring in April 2008.  The monitoring conducted following the first 2 months of the campaign did not demonstrate a decrease in bacteria in the park.  The last COA samples in the park were collected on 1 July 2008, and yielded an average concentration (129 mpn/100 mL) slightly above the contact recreation standard (126 mpn/100 mL). 


8.      What is the difference in E. coli trends between normal flow years and low flow years?

This is a complex issue, since bacteria concentrations may vary with a large number of factors.  Theoretically, reduced flows could translate to higher use intensity by wildlife and reduced dilution leading to increased bacteria concentrations.  However, COA and USGS bacteria concentrations in large undeveloped watersheds (like upper Onion Creek) during non-storm conditions do not demonstrate a relationship with flow.