E.coli Spike in Mammoth Cave


Two weeks after high levels E.coli and fecal coliform were found in Mammoth Cave National Park, some of the cave tours remain closed.

Park officials are now working to determine the cause of the spike. "In certain portions of Mammoth Cave we have found what appear to be spikes in the levels of E.coli and we're just not sure why that's happening," said Vickie Carson, with Mammoth Cave National Park.

The high levels were found when a researcher discovered the organisms after running tests on the ground water.

Since then, those with the cave have been trying to pinpoint the source.

"We're just trying to figure out where it's coming from and protect the people that are coming here and our employees and the environment as well," Carson said.

Water is being collected from 13 locations on a daily basis and is then sent to Western Kentucky University's "WATERS" lab for testing. The water is being tested the same way in each location and day to help officials get accurate results.

"It will be just a standardized method of doing that because there can be so many variables in the way you collect water and you test it," Carson said.

While the levels of bacteria in the historic section are elevated it's not uncommon in the cave.

"The E.coli and the fecal coliform are natural in the world and they're in the forest floor and their in excrement from animals that live here and they can come from people as well," Carson said.

The only part of the cave that's closed is the historic section. Those visiting the cave are going to the other tours that are open.

An awning is currently being constructed over the historic entrance to protect visitors from dripping water. Once that's finished, it will be reopened. Those with Mammoth Cave are hoping it will be finished by the end of the week.

For more information you can log onto http://www.nps.gov/maca/


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