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Several Clear Days Make for Prime Swimming
By: Corrie (friendv3) 2017.07.13

Sampling results from the third round of Friends of the Mad River’s Mad River Watch water quality monitoring show no sites with elevated E. coli levels as of Monday morning, July 10. Unfortunately, however, this week our analysis does not include Moretown sites as we discarded results due to accuracy uncertainty. After heavy rains at the end of last week, the river topped out at 838 cubic feet per second (cfs) at the US Geological Service flow gage in Moretown on Friday, July 7 around 8 pm. Rains Saturday kept the river higher than normal, but Sunday was clear.

The flow condition of the Mad River at the time of sampling Monday morning was High and Steady (HS), measuring approximately 273 cfs. The mean flow for this date in the last 89 years is 158 cfs.

Low E. coli levels on Monday are not surprising as there had been a full day without rain to carry pollutants off the land and into the streams. Remember that rains can cause E. coli levels to fluctuate, even on a daily basis, as water carrying pathogens moves down the watershed. When weather across the watershed varies from hill to hollow, swimming safety varies too! FMR’s E. coli sampling results are only a snapshot in time intended to give you a sense of the conditions that lead to high pathogen levels in the water so you can be informed. 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 8 out of every 1,000 swimmers are likely to contract a water borne illness related to fecal contamination.

Many thanks to this week’s Mad River Watch samplers: Charlie Baldwin, Richard Czaplinski (and his grandson Bobby Treadwell), Susy Deane, Annie & Hazel Macmillan, Kinny Perot, Fran & Gary Plewak, and Michael Ware. Thanks to Susanne and George Schaefer who drove water samples to the DEC’s lab in Burlington for phosphorus, nitrogen, and turbidity analysis and to Sally Boudreau for posting data at swimholes across the watershed. The Mad River Watch Program would not be possible without these dedicated volunteers! Our Lab Coordinator, Paula Baldwin, did the labwork.

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 click here. Results are also available on Facebook (“Friends of the Mad River”) and on sign posts at swimholes across the Valley. Friends is a community-supported organization, and depends on the generous contributions of its members to continue the Mad River Watch and other important programs; learn how to become a member and donate securely here.

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