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6.14.11 Mad River Watch Sampling Results
By: friendv3 (friendv3) 2011.06.15

Mad River Watch finds low E. Coli levels at many sites; downstream sites remain elevated

View results from 6.13.11

Mad River Watch kicked off its 26th season of water quality monitoring this Monday as volunteers headed to sites throughout the watershed to collect samples. The Mad River Watch program will conduct water testing every two weeks throughout the summer; results are reported in the newspaper and on signs at various swimholes.

Samples from the 36 Mad River Watch sites are analyzed for E.coli bacteria, an indicator of fecal contamination and the potential presence of fecal-borne pathogens such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium. When rains wash agricultural, human and pet waste into the Valley's rivers and streams, E. coli levels rise in the river, increasing the risk to swimmers.  To reduce sources of E.coli in the watershed, residents should be sure to clean up after pets, regularly pump and maintain private septic systems, and properly manage manure sources and livestock pastures.  

Through an ongoing partnership program with the VT State water quality lab, samples from 18 of the sites are also analyzed for phosphorus and turbidity. Phosphorus and turbidity are indicators of erosion and related sediment and nutrient pollution; data from this monitoring program can be used to focus restoration efforts and erosion control projects.

The June 13th sampling results show generally favorable swimming conditions throughout the upper part of the watershed, with less favorable conditions in the downstream-most sites.  Eight of thirty-six sites had E.coli levels above Vermont's water quality standard of 77 colonies E.coli/100 mL water, including:  
* Folsom Brook near route 100 (Warren)
* High Bridge Brook near Joslin Hill Road (Waitsfield)
* Moretown Village swim access
* Doctor's Brook (Moretown)
* Ward's Clapboard Mill (Moretown)
* Welder Brook (Moretown)
* Ward Access (Moretown)
* Lover's Lane Bridge (Moretown)  

The United States Geological Survey river gage showed water levels were high and declining at the time of sampling-the river flow was well above the seasonal mean for this date (125 cfs) at approximately 570 cubic feet per second (cfs).  Flow had declined from a high of approximately 1,000 cfs early on June 12th.  Keep in mind--when water levels rise due to showers and thunderstorms, it generally results in higher E.coli levels.  As always, swimmers are encouraged to consider recent weather and upstream activities as factors that may affect water quality.

Many thanks to this week's Mad River Watch volunteers: Fran & Gary Plewak, Kristen Sharpless, Susy Deane, Kate Sudhoff, and Michael Ware!  We would also like to thank Cyndee Button who has returned as the 2011 Mad River Watch Lab Coordinator, and is generously volunteering her time.

Please consider supporting the Mad River Watch and Friends of the Mad River with a membership donation.  You can join securely online at

For more information about E. coli and the Mad River Watch program, or to report a river-related illness call Caitrin at (802) 496-9127.

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