Throughout the summer, the Boulder Reservoir offers people a place to cool down and relax. But people are not the only ones that flock to the area’s sandy beach and shaded picnic places — geese also are drawn to the retreat, and they often leave behind reminders of their presence.
Since 2017, efforts to mitigate geese waste daily have been a parks priority, according to Denise White, spokeswoman for the Boulder Parks and Recreation Department .
One of these efforts includes daily cleanup around Boulder Reservoir. Every morning, reservoir staff utilize tow-and-collect equipment, a rake-like machine pulled by a Gator utility vehicle, to pick up goose waste and other refuse found on the beach and around reservoir grounds. The equipment was first purchased in 2017. In 2018, the city was able to purchase a second tow-and-collect machine with a $5,500 grant.
White said cleanup of the waste takes place year round. During the winter months, cleanup is initiated on an as-needed basis. She described keeping the reservoir free of goose waste as a major effort of the parks department.
“We want to create an inviting space,” White said. “We know keeping our parks in good repair enhances that experience, and we have taken a proactive approach.”
In addition to daily cleanup, White said precautions are taken to make sure water at the Boulder Reservoir remains safe.
The Lake Patrol Team collects weekly water samples, which are tested at the city’s certified lab at the water treatment plant. One additional peak sample is also collected per month. The results are submitted to the Boulder County Health and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment monthly.
If a count of more than 235 E. coli organisms per 100 milliliters is breached, the swim beach will be temporarily shut down until water levels return to a safe amount.
“Many factors can contribute to water quality,” White said. “The presence of geese is only one potential factor.”
The beach has not been closed this year, White said. In 2016, the beach closed for a total of six days for two separate occurrences.
In addition to E. coli, goose waste has the potential to carry other bacteria strains, including salmonella and campylobacter, according to Chana Goussetis, spokesperson for Boulder County Public Health.
While the waste poses no harm to someone who may sit next to a wayward pile, people should take care not to come into contact with it, Goussetis said. She advised those visiting areas where fecal material is to make sure to wash their hands before eating and to talk to their children about not touching the waste.
While White said no one keeps track of the amount of waste collected annually, she noted that since the collection process began in 2017, there have been fewer complaints from people who visit the recreation area.
White also encouraged people who visit the reservoir and see the waste to notify reservoir staff. If they are unable to contact a staff member on site, they can call the reservoir facility at 303-441-3461.
“We do our best to manage it,” White said. “We also do our best to constantly improve. We invite people to let us know when they are at the facility.”