News Release — Connecticut River Watershed Council
June 2, 2015
Greenfield, MA –In time for the summer recreation season, the Connecticut River Watershed Council (CRWC) and fifteen partners have launched the 2015 Connecticut River water sampling program. Water samples are tested for E. coli bacteria as an indicator for all types of other pathogens that could potentially make you sick. River users can visit the “Is It Clean” web page located at www.ConnecticutRiver.us to find bacteria test results at more than 130 river access and recreation sites in Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and northern Connecticut. Samples are typically collected at each site weekly or bi-weekly and test results are posted online 24 hours later, through early October.
“When weather gets warm, people head to our rivers to cool off and have fun, and they want to know if our rivers are clean. The data tells us that it is a good idea to stay out of the water for 24-48 hours after a heavy rain because bacteria levels could be high,” says CRWC River Steward Andrea Donlon, who coordinates the water sampling program. “Heavy rain is often the cause of high bacteria levels. Bacteria can spike after a storm due to combined sewer overflows (CSOs) and polluted stormwater runoff from urban, suburban, and agricultural areas,” notes Donlon.
“Cities and towns along the river are making significant investments in their sewers to reduce pollution and this has made a tremendous difference in our enjoyment of our rivers. However, there are still times when your rivers might make you sick,” says CRWC Executive Director Andrew Fisk. “Our rivers are certainly much cleaner than they used to be, but it makes sense for river users to pay attention to this information to help them manage risk.”
Water sample results are color-coded and map-based to offer guidance about whether the water is clean enough for swimming and boating. Results are a snapshot of river conditions at the moment the sample was taken, but gives river users information they can use to make informed decisions and prevent potential illness. The website provides bacteria data for the Connecticut River and more than 20 tributaries, including the Chicopee River, Mill River (Northampton) and Millers River in MA, the Farmington River in CT, the Ottauquechee and Black Rivers in VT, and many more. Some sites are still showing results from 2014, but all sample partners will begin collecting samples within a few weeks and results will be updated soon.
The water sampling project is now in its eighth year. Partner organizations include Connecticut River Watershed Council, Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, Southeastern Vermont Watershed Alliance, Putney Rowing Club, Black River Action Team, White River Partnership, Ottauquechee River Group, Ashuelot River Local Advisory Committee, Greater Northfield Watershed Association, Greenfield Health Department, Millers River Watershed Council, Farmington River Watershed Association, Connecticut River Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Scantic River Watershed Association/University of Saint Joseph, Goodwin College and the CT River Academy.