Dead cow discovered in river

BOIL WATER NOTICE: All residences and businesses that utilize river water and are located on either side of the Middle Fork of the Kaweah River below Three Rivers Hideaway Campground (43365 Sierra Drive) have received a mandatory order to boil water before use. Boiling water kills microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, and protozoans that can cause disease. Boiling makes the tap water microbiologically safe. How to safely boil: Bring tap water to a full rolling boil, let it boil for one minute, and cool before using.

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The removal of a deceased cow from the Middle Fork of the Kaweah River on Wednesday, April 25, was a prime example of the old adage, “If you want something done right do it yourself.” After several government agencies passed on removing the deceased animal, a local crew of river rescuers did what could have been easily done when the situation first came to light. 

On Monday, April 23, Dave Hammond, owner of Three Rivers Hideaway, reported to the Three Rivers Community Services District (CSD) that there was a decomposing cow in the riverbed a short distance below his riverfront campground and RV park. Hammond, who is also a commercial whitewater rafting company owner, knew that the CSD monitors river water quality and a dead cow could be hazardous, not to mention the odor wouldn’t be good for the local rafting business.   
 
It is unknown how the cow died in the river. The owner of the cow is also unknown.
 
Cindy Howell Oviedo, CSD general manager, called the California State Water Resources Control Board to make sure they were aware of the potential threat to water quality. The agency’s response was to have the CSD notice all downstream water users of the health hazard and inform those on private wells via hand-delivered boil water notices as necessary. There is now a water-testing regimen for businesses and residential users on commercial systems or water associations.
 
Mark Frick, Three Rivers resident deputy, checked the scene and informed the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office that the decomposing cow was a few yards off the south shore adjacent to 43000 block of Sierra Drive. Deputy Frick was advised that this was not a department issue and that the state Department of Fish and Wildlife had jurisdiction. 
 
When contacted, a Fish and Wildlife spokesperson told the CSD they don’t come to Three Rivers to recover large animals and can’t help with animal control.
 
“It seemed like every person I talked with was just giving me the runaround,” said Oviedo. “That’s when I contacted Kuyler Crocker.”
 
Crocker, the county supervisor for District 1, which includes Three Rivers, contacted Tulare County Environmental Health and Public Works departments to figure out who might be best for the removal job. Because the cow was in a couple feet of water, it was ultimately decided that
Frank Root, a local certified whitewater rafting company owner, be in the water and attach rescue equipment to the cow. Root was assisted by Tulare County Fire Department personnel and Deputy Frick in pulling the animal onto the riverbank.
 
Once it was decided who and how, the entire operation was conducted safely and quickly. But for downstream water users on public water systems, there remains a regimen of water tests that must be completed. As soon as a determined number of tests show that bacteria levels are in the acceptable levels, the boil water order can be lifted. No date has been provided
 
For those on private wells, bacteria sampling can be done at the local CSD office for a fee of $25. To arrange for water testing, call the CSD office at 561-3480.      

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