BRATTLEBORO >> The Southeastern Vermont Watershed Alliance had the third day of its monitoring program for the summer of 2016 on Wednesday, July 20.
Volunteers collected samples from 30 sites on eight rivers and streams and will continue to do so every other week through the end of August. This year, there are sites on the West River, Rock River, North Branch Ball Mountain Brook, Williams River (including South Branch and Middle Branch), Saxtons River, Sacketts Brook, and Whetstone Brook.
Waterways that tested above the limit included Rainbow Rock swimming hole and the Williams River below the Chester waste water treatment facility. Sacketts Brook in Putney at the end of Mill Street and above the I-91 bridge also tested above the limit. The West River in South Londonderry at Rowes Road tested above the limit, as did the Whetstone Brook at the Brattleboro Farmers' Market on Western Ave.
The days leading up to July 20 were quite dry and only a few sites tested above the "suitability for swimming" standard set by the state of Vermont and the US Environmental Protection Agency. Often, high bacteria levels are a result of heavy rains due to the water flowing over the ground, particularly impervious surfaces, carries all the bacteria from the land into the stream with it. Because heavy rains can cause spikes in bacteria, it is generally recommended to wait 24 to 48 hours after a significant rainfall to resume swimming in lakes and streams.
River users, whether they be swimming, boating, paddling, tubing, fishing, or even just hiking by, can help improve water quality by taking care of the rivers and their shores. The best way is to practice Leave No Trace principles (www.lnt.org for more info), especially disposing of waste, including pet waste, properly. This can keep whatever would have been left behind on the shoreline from washing into the river the next time it rains as well as keeping it aesthetically pleasing.
Escherichia coli, more commonly known as E. coli, is a bacterium that is found in the guts of all warm blooded animals, including humans. Most E. coli will not make a person sick, but sometimes they can become pathogenic which means they can cause illness. Additionally, the presence of E. coli in waters acts as an indicator for the presence of other, more difficult to test for pathogens. SeVWA publishes its results to the public in order to help everyone make informed decisions about recreating in Vermont's waters.
SeVWA's water quality monitoring program is supported by SeVWA volunteers, members and donors, including the Londonderry Conservation Commission, Robert Fritz, Inc, Rock River Preservation, Elaine Lambert Living Trust, State of VT Department of Environmental Conservation's LaRosa Environmental Testing Laboratory, and Connecticut River Watershed Council.
For more information about SeVWA's monitoring program sites and results and other Connecticut River watershed water quality and recreational information, visit www.ctriver.us or www.sevwa.org. Find SeVWA on Facebook.