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Join Us for "Mad River Watch: Water Quality through the Years"
By: Corrie (friendv3) 2016.08.10


You’re invited to join Friends of the Mad River on Thursday, August 18th, from 7:00 – 8:30 pm at Fayston’s Robert Vasseur Town Hall for a presentation and discussion about the Mad River Valley’s water quality through the last three decades. Learn which Mad River streams are cleanest, where we have challenges, and what kinds of land uses cause poor water quality. Share with us which swimholes, access areas, and water quality data are important to you.

Friends of the Mad River (FMR) has run the Mad River Watch water quality monitoring program each summer since 1985 to get a sense of the watershed’s overall health, provide public health information to river users, and identify areas needing improvement. Throughout the summer, community volunteers collect samples of water from dozens of river and tributary sites and then FMR and Vermont’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) laboratories analyze the samples’ bacteria and nutrient levels. We post the data in the Valley Reporter, on our Facebook page and website, and on signs at swimholes across the Valley so that people have information to make their own recreational health decisions. Over the decades, we’ve also used this data to guide many successful restoration projects.

This past year, thanks to a generous anonymous donor and a Vermont Watershed grant, FMR partnered with Fritz Gerhardt, Ph.D., a conservation scientist based in Newark, Vermont, to analyze all 31 years of volunteer-collected water quality data. First, we summarized the water quality data to identify any long-term trends in water quality conditions (that is, has water quality across the Mad River Valley improved, worsened, or stayed the same). Second, we used the water quality data to identify areas where higher levels of nutrients and sediment are consistently entering the Mad River and its tributaries. And, finally, we are using these analyses to update the Mad River Watch program to enhance its relevance to the local Mad River Valley community and larger Vermont scientific community.

This spring, we refined the 2016 Mad River Watch program to provide swimmers, paddlers, and anglers with information they need for safe recreation while also gathering water quality data that better identifies and resolves problematic land uses. Now, we look forward to hearing from you. To further advance the 2017 program, we’d like to learn what you value about the Mad River Watch program and what kind of data you might find useful moving forward. Thanks to the Mad River Valley Rotary Club, we’ll soon have greater capacity to get important Mad River Watch data out to our watershed community.

The presentation by FMR and Fritz Gerhardt, Ph.D. on August 18 will share results of this past year’s effort and look to you for input in further Mad River Watch program development. All are welcome at Fayston’s Robert Vasseur Town Hall (866 North Fayston Road) in the center of the Mad River watershed from 7:00 – 8:30 in the evening of August 18. We’ll have delicious refreshments prepared by Three Mountain Café. Bring a friend or neighbor – the more voices, the better the Mad River Watch program will become! We hope to see you there. RSVP is not required but is appreciated at

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 please visit the Friends of the Mad River website at Results are also available on Facebook (“Friends of the Mad River”) and on sign posts at swimholes across the Valley. Thanks to our members who make the Mad River Watch Program possible for the benefit of the whole watershed community! Learn how to become a member and donate securely online at our website.

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