RANCHESTER, Wyo. (AP) _ The town of Ranchester has found new options that could reduce the cost of chlorinating discharge into the Tongue River from its wastewater treatment facility after discovering a sewage lagoon built years ago for adding and remotely monitoring chlorine.

Mayor Peter Clark said the project could cost the town $3,000 a year, saving the town money.

“Back in ’85 for some reason, we don’t know why, they set up our sewer lagoons for the chlorine discharge,” Clark said.

Treatment of the water is necessary to prevent people from getting sick from E. coli bacteria, which can cause diarrhea, urinary tract infections and respiratory illnesses.

The Sheridan County Conservation District discovered the bacteria when it first began testing the river in the late 1990s. In 2002, state officials placed a 13-mile segment of the river from Ranchester to Monarch on the state’s Impaired Water List because of pollution.

The state is not saying Ranchester caused or even contributes to E. coli levels in the Tongue River. The agency is working with the town through the permitting process to ensure it is not making the river’s impairment worse, the Sheridan Press reported (http://tinyurl.com/lvbtlsy).

The standard for compliance is based on a person getting fully submerged in water with consistently elevated E. coli levels. Testing by the Sheridan County Conservation District found concentrations at three Tongue River sites exceeded the primary recreational use standards.

District conservationist Andrew Cassiday of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service said people who frequent the river should not be overly concerned.

“My opinion is that there is very little risk to swimming and boating and fishing and all the things people do in Tongue River,” he said. “I believe that the water quality is very high and we are very fortunate to have that.”