Homeless camps raise water-quality concerns in Colorado Springs
January 12, 2010
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) – A Colorado Springs woman has complained to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency about homeless people apparently relieving themselves along creeks where their camps are growing.
More than 120 people live in the homeless camps. And with few nearby public restrooms, makeshift toilets and toilet paper have shown up along Monument and Fountain creeks.
Real estate agent Janis Heuberger, who filed a complaint with the EPA, said she has an issue with that.
Bob Holmes, executive director of the homeless advocacy group Homeward Pikes Peak, said he’s concerned about the possibility of an E. coli outbreak.
Holmes said in one case, a downed tree was serving as a commode, and the waste was 18 inches deep. Police officers have to catch someone in the act to issue a citation, he said.
The state health department lists Fountain Creek and part of Monument Creek as having high levels of E. coli, but it’s not clear if the homeless camps are to blame. Researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey said last year pigeons appeared to be the culprit on Fountain Creek.
Three portable toilets, paid for by private individuals, were placed south of downtown Friday in a trial program, said officer Brett Iverson of the Colorado Springs Police Department’s Homeless Outreach Team.
Holmes said portable toilets are a “temporary and cursory” solution. He said a long-term answer is moving the homeless to more permanent quarters.
“We want to move people out of those tent cities. It’s exceedingly unhealthy. There’s a lot of violence that is happening down there that is not getting reported on,” he said. “It’s not a healthy place for people to be.”