The Transylvania Times -

Riverkeepers Release Testing Results On Local Rivers

 

September 30, 2019



Each week throughout the spring, summer and fall, MountainTrue’s French Broad, Green and Broad Riverkeepers release new, up-to-date bacteria testing results for monitoring sites at public access points in the French Broad, Green, and Broad River basins. Results are posted to the Swim Guide website at http://www.theswimguide.org, a resource for knowing which streams and river recreation areas are safe to swim in and which have failed to pass the EPA water quality standard for E. coli in recreational waters — less than 235 cfu (or colony forming units) per 100 milliliters.

MountainTrue Southern Regional Director and Green Riverkeeper Gray Jernigan give a roundup of Sept. 25 results: “All of the sites we tested in and around Lake Lure passed with flying colors. Those sites enjoy lots of protected land and less intensive land uses. Sites in the French Broad watershed had good results, with one exceedance of the EPA health standard in Cane Creek at Fletcher Community Park, and one site in the Green River at the Big Rock Access exceeded the standard. Overall, the lack of rain has been great for water quality.”

French Broad Basin Sites In Transylvania Co.

•French Broad at Pisgah Forest Access Point - pass (0 cfu/100mL)

•French Broad at Hap Simpson - pass (205 cfu/100mL)

•French Broad at Penrose: Crab Creek Access - pass (155 cfu/100mL)

•French Broad at Champion Park in Rosman - pass (0 cfu/100mL)

•Little River at Hooker Falls - pass (50 cfu/100mL)

French Broad Basin Sites In Henderson Co.

•French Broad at Westfeldt Park - pass (150 cfu/100mL)

•Cane Creek at Fletcher Community Park - fail (490 cfu/100mL)

•Mud Creek at Brookside Camp Road - pass (155 cfu/100mL)

Green River Basin Sites

•Big Hungry River at Big Hungry Road - pass (69.1 cfu/100mL)

•Green River at Fishtop Access - pass (27.2 cfu/100mL)

•Green River at Pot Shoals Road - pass (6.3 cfu/100mL)

•Cove Creek at Bradley Falls Trailhead on Holbert Cove Road - pass (82.0 cfu/100mL)

•Green River at Big Rock Access - fail (488.4 cfu/100mL)

•Lake Adger Marina - pass (17.9 cfu/100 mL)

Lake Lure Area Sites

•Rocky Broad River at Paul and Elsie Matthews Overlook - pass (68.3 cfu/100mL)

•Rocky Broad River at Chimney Rock Riverside Park - pass (22.8 cfu/100mL)

•Lake Lure Swim Beach - pass (9.7 cfu/100mL)

How We Sample

MountainTrue’s French Broad and Green Riverkeepers monitor approximately 30 sites in the French Broad River and six of the Green River for bacteria pollution. Samples are collected on Wednesdays, processed using the Idexx system and incubated for 18-22 hours. Results are then analyzed and posted on Thursday afternoons on the Swim Guide website (www.theswimguide.org) and on the smartphone app, available for Android and Apple iphones.

MountainTrue uses the EPA’s BAV standard for the bacteria monitoring program. When there are 235 or more colony-forming units within a 100ml sample of water, the EPA estimates that 36 out of every 1,000 “primary contact recreators” will get sick or contract an infection. Primary contact recreation are activities where immersion and ingestion are likely and there is a high degree of bodily contact with the water, such as swimming, bathing, surfing, water skiing, tubing, water play by children, or similar water-contact activities. Activities that do not require submersion, like Canoeing, have a reduced risk for contracting E. coli or other bacterial infections.

MountainTrue tests for E. coli because it is the best indicator for the presence of disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and protozoans. This does not mean a river without E. coli is always safe, nor does it mean that a river with some E. coli is a cesspool of pathogens. But there is a proven positive correlation between the presence of elevated levels of E. coli and illness or infections. 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.

It’s important to remember 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 rain and stormwater runoff. Use caution and consider when, how and where to get on the water based on your risk tolerance, especially if the water is visibly muddy.

Where Does E. Coli Come From?

E. coli bacteria makes its way into our rivers and streams in three ways: when legacy bacteria that binds to sediment on the bottom of the river gets churned into the water column by a rain event, leaking sewer or septic infrastructure and agricultural runoff – especially runoff from animal agricultural operations with substandard riparian buffers.

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 stormwater runoff. Areas closer to development and polluting agricultural practices are much more heavily impacted.

For more information about MountainTrue, go to http://www.mountaintrue.org. For more information about the Waterkeeper Alliance, go to http://www.waterkeeper.org.

 
 

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