The first round of water samples taken by Friends of the Mad River volunteers on Monday morning June 16th show generally favorable swimming conditions throughout the watershed with six of thirty-seven sites tested in violation of Vermont’s water quality standards. The sites that were in violation are:
• Freeman Brook in Warren Village (next to the Warren Store)
• Folsom Brook at Route 100
• Mad River at North Road in Moretown
• Moretown Village swim access
• Welder Brook
• Ward swimhole
• Lover’s Lane bridge in Moretown.
**Download a pdf file of all data from 6/16/08**
The state water quality standard for recreational waters measures E. coli bacteria, a type of Coliform bacteria found in human and animal waste. High levels of E.coli in water indicate the presence of high levels of fecal contamination, and thus the potential presence of related pathogens such as Giardia. Rain events wash agricultural, human and pet waste into the Valley’s rivers and streams, causing high E. coli levels. While favorable swimming conditions were found at many sites in the watershed, some sites exhibited higher levels of E.coli, especially the most downstream sites. High E. coli levels at downstream sites can sometimes occur due to the accumulation of all pollution in the watershed.
Water levels were high and declining at the time of sampling, after peaking at approximately 450 cubic feet per second on June 15th. Water levels may rise again due to showers and thunderstorms forecasted through the weekend, which could mean rising E.coli levels in some of the Valley locations. As always, swimmers are encouraged to consider recent weather and upstream activities as factors that may affect water quality. A rainstorm that turns the Mad River’s waters brown with sediment would likely increase E. coli levels significantly until the river clears up.
Water temperatures in the Mad River were found to be in the upper 50’s and low 60’s this week, with the highest temperatures being recorded at the most downstream sites with little or no shading from streamside vegetation. These temperatures are still hospitable for brook trout, who can generally tolerate temperatures below 75 degrees. Above these temperatures trout will seek colder waters in the smaller tributaries.
Many thanks to this week’s Mad River Watch volunteers: Montserrat Carbonell, Kinny Perot, Fran Plewak, Patti Greene-Swift, Elizabeth Walker and Michael Ware! We would also like to thank Cyndee Button who has returned as the 2008 Mad River Watch Lab Coordinator. For more information about E. coli and the Mad River Watch program, or to report a river-related illness call 496-9127.