The Transylvania Times -

River Water Quality Recorded Weekly


July 4, 2019

Water quality recently failed to meet swim standards in the French Broad River at the Wilson Road and Crab Creek Road public access points, according to the French Broad Riverkeeper.

Each Thursday afternoon throughout the spring, summer and fall, the French Broad Riverkeeper releases new, up-to-date bacteria monitoring results for six monitoring sites at public access points within the French Broad River Basin.

Results are posted on the website http://www.theswim – a public resource for knowing which streams and river recreation areas are safe to swim in and which have failed to meet safe water quality standards for bacteria pollution.

The Swim Guide website monitors four access areas of the French Broad River in Transylvania County. The Pisgah Forest and Penrose access areas were the only ones to fail water quality standards for swimming. Champion Park in Rosman and Hap Simpson Park in Brevard met standards suitable for swimming.

The results from testing on Wednesday, June 26, showed the two county sites at levels well under the EPA standard for health. The French Broad Riverkeeper is associated with the environmental nonprofit Mountain True, which issued the press release about the findings.

It’s important to re-member, however, according to the release, that a water sample shows a snapshot in time and conditions can change quickly. Bacteria levels often increase in the 48 hours after rain events. River users should be mindful of the rain and storm water runoff, the release said.

Heavy rains and storms often result in spikes in E. coli contamination, increasing the risk to human health. Contact with or consumption of contaminated water can cause gastrointestinal illness, skin, ear, respiratory, eye, neurologic and wound infections. The most commonly reported symptoms are stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and low-grade fever.

In general, waterways that are located in more remote areas or near protected public lands that lack a lot of agriculture, development or industrial pollution sources are the cleanest and will be less affected by storm water runoff, the release said. Areas closer to development and polluting agricultural practices are much more heavily impacted.

Bart Renner, with the Transylvania Cooperative Extension Office, said that some of the contamination issues in rivers comes from waste water runoff, and that farmers in the county do everything they can to avoid harmful impact near rivers and streams.

“Recent publications have noted higher than normal levels of fecal coliform in some parts of the French Broad River – reportedly resulting from discharge from public sewage and storm water management systems,” he said. “I’m not aware of any such issues in Transylvania County, which are associated with an agricultural property. Either way, we are working with our farmers and land managers to control erosion, fence livestock out of steams and provide alternative sources for drinking water and irrigation.”


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