Crater Lake Opening ‘On’ Despite Water Warnings – July 31, 1975

Crater Lake Opening ‘On’ Despite Water Warnings

Klamath Falls Herald and News

Klamath Falls, Oregon
July 31, 1975


Reopening plans for Crater Lake National Park are rolling right along despite warnings from the State Health Division.

Park gates, which have been closed since July 11, will reopen Friday morning. Although Crater Lake Lodge and the Rim Village Campground will be closed, probably for the rest of the summer, most other services and facilities will be offered.

(Interpretive and concession offerings are outlined in the weekly Recreation Report, which appears today on Page 10.)

The park was closed earlier this month after a series of illnesses to employes and visitors was traced to contaminated water. It was discovered a sewer line was plugged by a rock, overflowed and raw sewage seeped into the park’s main water source, Munson Springs.

The decision to reopen was reached Wednesday morning after a series of meetings and tests on purified water.

“I don’t have any qualms about opening at all,” reported Supt. Richard Sims.

Sims and Ernie Borgman, general superintendent of the Klamath Falls National Park Service (NPS) Group Office, both said the opening will go as planned despite comments by Bob Oliver, State Health Division administrator.

Oliver said Wednesday afternoon the health division is warning park visitors about Crater Lake’s drinking water.

“The authority to reopen the park rests entirely with the NPS and the federal government. However, the State Health Division is concerned about public use of Munson Springs water for drinking purposes even though it is to be treated by a filtration system.”

“We don’t consider the risk at the park any greater than it is with system in the country,” Borgman said this morning.

Health division officials explained this morning the warning “is not advising people not to go to the park, but to be aware there are certain.”

According to the division, the “continued safety of the water is dependent on the absence of human or mechanical failure” in the water purification system. “People should be aware it is treated sewage they will be drinking and that there is a certain element of risk.”

He noted extensive water quality tests have been, and will be, conducted and monitored by the U.S. Public Health Service and Environmental Protection Administration, along with the State Health Division.

“Every precaution that we know of has been taken,” Borgman said this morning, “including those suggested by the State Health Division.”

Confident the water quality is pure, Sims and Borgman suggested visitors with fears either bring their own or use water from uncontaminated Annie Springs.

When the park reopens Friday morning, park employes will request all visitors to conserve water. According to Sims, the purification units can handle only limited amounts of water per day, up to 60,000 gallons.

Visitors will be asked as they enter the park to use restrooms in the Mazama Campground-Annie Springs area when possible. According to Borgman, restroom use is the primary water depletion cause.

Park personnel will be stationed around the park to answer questions and explain the recent closure. Despite wide publicity, some people incorrectly believe the contamination affected water in Crater Lake itself.

In related developments, the National Center for Disease Control (CDC) said Wednesday it has isolated an organism which may have caused the illness outbreak.

According to Dr. Monroe A. Holmes, assistant epidemiologist in the Oregon Health Division, unofficial reports from the CDC identify the organism as toxogenic ecoli. Ecoli are bacteria that are normally present in human intestines but occasionally spill out toxins that can cause illness, according to Dr. Holmes.