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Last Week of Friends of the Mad River’s Mad River Watch…3 Years since Irene.
By: Corrie (friendv3) 2014.08.26

Sampling results from the sixth and final round of Friends of the Mad River’s 2014 Mad River Watch (MRW) volunteer water quality program show no unfavorable swimming conditions as of Monday morning. None of the 36 Mad River watershed sites tested unsuitable for water recreation (according to EPA's E. coli threshold of 235 colonies per 100 ml of water) on 8/25. This result is expected due to low water levels and several days without rain. Pollutants that washed off the land and into the water (stormwater runoff) late last week have already moved through the watershed system.

After several days without rain, the flow condition of the Mad River at the time of sampling was low and steady (LS), measuring approximately 75 cubic feet per second (cfs) at the USGS flow gage in Moretown, down from 283 cfs on Friday morning, 8/22. The median flow for this date is ~50 cfs.

Two other dates this summer also had a “low and steady” flow condition – June 30th and August 11th. On all three of these sampling dates, none of the 36 sites tested above suitable E. coli levels. On July 14th, when the water was “low and rising” after a storm, 15 sites violated these suitable levels. You are your best protector - use common sense and let the high waters pass (along with the pollutants they carry) before jumping in!

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 season’s Mad River Watch volunteers: Dave Gould, Mike Ware, Fran & Gary Plewak, Susy Deane, Chase Fortier, Carol Chamberlin, Sally Bodreau, Kinny Perot, and Susanne & George Schaefer. Also, a big thanks to Cyndee Button, our volunteer Lab Coordinator, for her countless hours analyzing E. coli samples in our General Wait House lab. The Mad River Watch Program would not be possible without these dedicated, passionate, generous volunteers! Cheers to a great season.

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

To view our most recent complete data report (with data from all 36 sites), click here.

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

Three years ago this week, on August 28, 2011, Tropical Storm Irene dumped so much rain across our watershed that, at 10:15 that memorable Sunday evening, the USGS flow gage in Moretown peaked at 24,200 cubic feet per second (cfs). Irene has since become a household name, leaving damage in its wake of a magnitude previously unimaginable. Today, three years later, our Mad River Valley community is still recovering from Irene – re-establishing our homes and businesses – and at the same time, we’re building our capacity to deal with whatever the future throws us. We’ve gone through a lot, come so far, and still have exciting and innovative work to be done. 

Friends of the Mad River is a community-supported organization dedicated to identifying, protecting and enhancing the ecological, recreational, and community values of the Mad River and its watershed. Together with municipalities and other partners, we work to build the Mad River Valley’s resilience to future flooding. Learn how to become a member online at our website.

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