07/30/2009

Mad River Watch volunteers collected water samples throughout the watershed on Monday morning, July 27.  Results show there were favorable swimming conditions at some locations, while at others E. coli levels were above the state water quality standard.

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The state water quality standard for recreational waters measures E. coli bacteria, an indicator of pollution from human or animal waste and the potential presence of disease causing organisms. Thirteen of 37 sites tested were found to be in violation of the standard at the time of sampling.

Sites in violation of water quality standards were located in Waitsfield and Moretown and included:  Couples Club, Lareau Park, Waitsfield covered bridge, Meadow Road bridge, Moretown Village swim access, and Ward's swimhole.

After heavy rains brought the river up to approximately 2,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) early Saturday morning, July 25, the volume of water flowing in the Mad River fell to approximately 300 cfs at the time of sampling on Monday morning. 

Due to the abundance of rain this summer, the river has been running high for many weeks and remains higher than the average flow for this date (~60 cfs). Swimmers are more likely to encounter safe conditions in declining and low flows since pollutants are not being actively washed into the river by rain; rain that turns the Mad River brown also brings E. coli levels up and increases the risk to swimmers of contracting a water-borne disease.

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. Lab coordinator is Cyndee Butoon and this week's Mad River Watch volunteers included Elizabeth Walker, Michael Ware, Cathy and Barry Glick, Fran and Gary Plewak, Patti Greene Swift and Susy Deane.

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