Mad River Watch’s 31st Summer of Sampling Begins with a Bang
By: Corrie (friendv3) 2015.06.16

Sampling results from the first round of Friends of the Mad River’s 2015 Mad River Watch (MRW) volunteer water quality program show ten sites with unfavorable swimming conditions Monday morning. It rained overnight Sunday and carried sediments and pollutants from the land into the river and streams.

The flow condition of the Mad River at the time of sampling Monday morning was low and rising (LR), measuring approximately 431 cubic feet per second (cfs) at the USGS flow gage in Moretown. The flow was down from about 1080 cfs in the early hours of Saturday, June 13th, after heavy rain. Monday morning sampling caught the river rising again, however, after rain overnight Sunday. The median flow for this date is 129 cfs. Ten sites tested above DOH/EPA "suitable for recreation" E. coli threshold of 235 colonies per 100 mL of water.

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.

To reduce contaminants entering our waterways, do what you can to keep water local! The more your property can soak up stormwater like sponge, instead of allowing it to run off to a neighbor’s property or the closest stream, the cleaner our waterways will be!

Many thanks to this week’s Mad River Watch volunteers: Paula & Charlie Baldwin, Susy Deane, Chase Fortier, Fran & Gary Plewak, and Michael Ware. Thanks to Susanne and George Schaefer who drove water samples to the DEC’s lab in Burlington for phosphorus and turbidity analysis and to Sally Boudreau for posting data at ten swimholes across the watershed. The Mad River Watch Program would not be possible without these dedicated volunteers! This week was a special one in the FMR lab as outgoing and longtime volunteer Lab Coordinator, Cyndee Button, trained Maryellen Kinhan, a Warren resident, to fill her shoes. Welcome Maryellen! It was also a special week for seasoned (and dedicated) MRW sampler, Chase Fortier, who helped collect water samples a mere two days after her graduation from Harwood – congratulations, Chase!

For more information about E. coli and the Mad River Watch program visit the Friends of the Mad River website here. To view our most recent complete data report please click 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.