Created on Thursday, 23 August 2007 11:22
Last Updated on Thursday, 23 August 2007 11:22
Water samples taken by volunteers
for Friends of the Mad River on Monday, August 20, showed low E. coli
levels in all but one site. Of the 37 water quality testing sites, only
Warren Riverside Park had an E. coli level that was above the Vermont
state standard of <77 E. coli/100 ml. The low results in all the
other sites is good news for swimmers for the moment, but with rain in
the weekend forecast, E. coli levels could potentially rise. Water
levels in the Mad River watershed are low at the moment and any rain
event could wash pollutants into the streams and rivers.
The Vermont water quality standard for recreational waters measures E.
coli bacteria, an indicator of pollution from human or animal waste.
The current favorable swimming conditions are a result of a lack of
significant rainfall over the past week. The volume of water flowing in
the Mad River has been steadily declining since August 14, when it
peaked at approximately 130 cubic feet per second (cfs). The current
water flow measurement from the USGS monitoring station in Moretown is
at approximately 28 cfs (http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv/?&site_no=04288000
). Water levels could rise over the weekend if the forecasted rain brings any significant precipitation.
Without a recent rain "washing" event to send agricultural, human and
pet waste into The Valley's rivers and streams, local swimmers are more
likely to encounter safe swimming conditions in this low and declining
water flow. Warren Riverside Park's higher E. coli level could
indicate a more constant source of contamination such as a failed
septic system or a localized in-stream source such as wading cows,
horse manure at a stream crossing, or wildlife such as deer, moose or
beaver. To help avoid localized contamination, Valley residents are
strongly encouraged to clean up after their pets anywhere near the Mad
River or its tributaries.
Even though the E. coli levels are favorable at the moment, swimmers
should 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 probably increase the E. coli levels
significantly in many of the popular swimming areas.
For more information about E. coli and the Mad River Watch program or
to report a river-related illness call Friends of the Mad River at
496-9127. Thanks to this week's Mad River Watch volunteers Kathryn and
Pam Barnes, Lisa Koitzsch, Elisabeth Osborn, Jay Meadows, Fran Plewak,
Elizabeth Walker, Kinny Perot and Lynn Wawrzynek.