Sampling results from the fifth round of Friends of the Mad River’s 2015 Mad River Watch (MRW) volunteer water quality program show no sites with unfavorable swimming conditions Monday morning after nearly a week without substantial rain. It rained after sampling Monday night, however, and likely washed 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 steady (LS), measuring approximately 53 cubic feet per second (cfs) at the USGS flow gage in Moretown, down from only 201 cfs overnight on August 4th, after thunderstorms that Tuesday. The median flow for August 10 is 187 cfs. None of the 36 sampling sites tested Monday above DOH/EPA safe E. coli level of 235 colonies per 100 mL of water.
Remember, though, 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 at least a full day 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: Susanne & George Schaefer, Susy Deane, Annie Macmillan, Fran & Gary Plewak, and Michael Ware. Thanks to Pam Piper & Sam Loesch who drove water samples to the DEC’s lab in Burlington for phosphorus and turbidity analysis, to Sally Boudreau for posting data at ten swimholes across the watershed, and to Maryellen Kinhan for completing the Wait House E. coli lab analysis. The Mad River Watch Program would not be possible without these dedicated volunteers!
For more information about E. coli and the Mad River Watch program, click here. To view our most recent complete data report, 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. It’s membership season, so please consider donating securely online at our website.