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Unpredictable Weather Means Unpredictable Swimming Safety
By: Corrie (friendv3) 2017.06.27

Sampling results from the second round of Friends of the Mad River’s Mad River Watch water quality monitoring show no sites with elevated E. coli levels as of Monday morning, June 26. After very heavy rains at the end of last week, the river topped out at 2,770 cubic feet per second (cfs) at the US Geological Service flow gage in Moretown on Saturday, June 24 around 8 am.

The flow condition of the Mad River at the time of sampling Monday morning was High and Declining (HD), measuring approximately 427 cfs. The mean flow for this date in the last 89 years is 175 cfs.

Low E. coli levels on Monday is not surprising as there were several days with only intermittent light rains to carry pollutants off the land and into the streams. Remember that rains can cause E. coli levels to fluctuate, even on a daily basis, as water carrying pathogens moves down the watershed. When weather across the watershed varies from hill to hollow, swimming safety varies too! FMR’s E. coli sampling results are only a snapshot in time 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. 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 samplers: Richard Czaplinski, Susy Deane, Annie & Hazel Macmillan, Kinny Perot, 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, nitrogen, and turbidity analysis and to Sally Boudreau for posting data at swimholes across the watershed. The Mad River Watch Program would not be possible without these dedicated volunteers! This week, Corrie Miller, Executive Director, did the labwork.

The river connects our Mad River Valley community and its clean water is a measure of our success as stewards of the land. For more information about E. coli and the Mad River Watch program and 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; learn how to become a member and donate securely here.

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