Dry periods make for safe swimming.
By: Corrie (friendv3) 2014.08.12

Sampling results from the fifth round of Friends of the Mad River’s 2014 Mad River Watch (MRW) volunteer water quality program show no sites with unfavorable swimming conditions Monday morning! Before sampling, the last substantial rain event in our watershed was on August 5, so the low E. coli levels are not surprising.

The flow condition of the Mad River at the time of sampling Monday morning was low and steady (LS), measuring approximately 61 cubic feet per second (cfs) at the USGS flow gage in Moretown, down from 447 cfs in the early hours of August 6. The median flow for this date is ~60 cfs.

None of the sites tested “unsuitable for swimming,” at the time of sampling Monday morning, August 11. The other date this summer with a “Low and Steady” flow condition – June 30th – also had no sites that tested above suitable E. coli levels. But, remember that rains can cause E. coli levels to fluctuate, even on a daily basis, as water carrying pathogens moves down the watershed. FMR’s E. coli sampling results are intended to give you a sense of the conditions that lead to high pathogen levels in the water so you can be informed. You are your best protector - use common sense and don't swim for several days after a rain!

E. coli is a type of coliform bacteria and is used as an indicator of pollution from human or animal waste and the potential presence of disease causing organisms. It is estimated that at the level of 235 colonies E.coli per 100 mL water, approximately 8 out of every 1,000 swimmers are likely to contract a water borne illness related to fecal contamination.

Many thanks to this week’s Mad River Watch volunteers: Dave Gould, Mike Ware, Fran & Gary Plewak, Susy Deane, and Carol Chamberlin. Also, a big thanks to Cyndee Button, our volunteer Lab Coordinator, to Kinny Perot for posting MRW data at swimholes, and to Susanne and George Schaefer who drove water samples to the DEC’s lab in Burlington for phosphorus and turbidity analysis. The Mad River Watch Program would not be possible without these dedicated volunteers!

To view our most recent complete data report, click here.

For more information about E. coli and the Mad River Watch Program, click here.

A map of the 36 sites sampled and most recent results is here.

Results are also available on Facebook (“Friends of the Mad River”) and on sign posts at swimholes across the Valley.

Friends is a community-supported organization, and depends on the generous contributions of its members to continue the Mad River Watch and other important programs; learn how to become a member and donate securely online at our website.