Panguitch Utah By Mariamne Beuscher, communications intern

After an intense blaze destroyed thousands of acres of Utah forest, rural Panguitch residents learned their water supply is contaminated with dangerous E. coli bacteria.

Recent tests have revealed dangerous levels of E. coli bacteria in most of the springs that supply Panguitch. Although the exact cause of contamination has not yet been identified, many officials speculate the cause to be the aftermath of the Brian Head fire.

Fire has destroyed multiple structures, including several municipal water sheds located within Garfield and Iron Counties. Additionally, debris from the fire – which may include animal and human feces – can easily runoff into drinking water supplies, posing a looming threat to lakes, rivers and streams in the area.

Concerned officials wrote to Dixie National Forest managers in 2015 warning of “tinder box conditions” posing a forthcoming threat to the local drinking water supply. Within recent weeks, rains have carried carcasses into the spring area and water collection boxes used in Panguitch are in danger of being clogged with debris.

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