Kids swimming in the Mad River. Photo: John Williams

Sampling results from the second round of Friends of the Mad River’s Mad River Watch Program show no sites with unfavorable swimming conditions as of Monday morning, June 27. It has been dry and the river has been dropping since the June strawberry moon marked the last substantial rain event. Prior to Monday’s sampling, sediments and pollutants from the land into the river and streams had likely already flushed through the watershed and into the Winooski River and Lake Champlain.

The flow condition of the Mad River at the time of sampling Monday morning was low and steady (LS), measuring approximately 47 cubic feet per second (cfs) at the USGS flow gage in Moretown. The flow peaked at only 137 cfs on June 22 and the river, with very little precipitation since, has been lower and lower. The median flow for this date is 230 cfs, so the river is well below normal for this time of year.

Remember that rains can cause E. coli levels to fluctuate, even on a daily basis, as water carrying pathogens moves down the watershed. Friends of the Mad River’s E. coli sampling results are only a snapshot in time intended to provide a sense of the conditions that lead to high pathogen levels in the water.

“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 eight out of every 1,000 swimmers are likely to contract a waterborne illness related to fecal contamination,” explained Corrie Miller, executive director of Friends of the Mad River.

This week’s Mad River Watch volunteers were Charlie Baldwin, Richard Czaplinski, Susy Deane, Annie and Hazel Macmillan, Kinny Perot, Fran and Gary Plewak and Michael Ware. Susanne and George Schaefer drove water samples to the lab in Burlington for phosphorus, nitrogen and turbidity analysis and Sally Boudreau posted the data at swim holes across the watershed. Paula Baldwin took over the helm as lab coordinator this year.

For more information about E. coli and the Mad River Watch Program and to view the most recent complete data report, visit the Friends of the Mad River website at Results are also available on Facebook (Friends of the Mad River) and on signposts at swim holes across The Valley.