Water Quality Monitoring Begins

Water Quality Monitoring Begins

June 26, 2007

In June, the White River Partnership (WRP) launched its seventh season of monitoring the water quality of streams and rivers throughout the White River watershed in central Vermont. Twenty-two dedicated volunteers are keeping tabs on 26 sites throughout the watershed, measuring water temperature, clarity, and electrical conductivity (a measure of dissolved salts), and also collecting water samples that are tested for E. coli at the WRP’s Rochester office.

E. coli is a type of bacteria that lives in the intestines of all warm-blooded animals. It is best used as an indicator of water pollution from human or animal waste—its presence reveals that fecal material from a variety of sources (leaking septic systems, waterfowl, livestock, wild animals, and pets) is entering the water and that there is a potential for the water to contain pathogens that could make people sick. Because the White River watershed is a popular destination for swimming, paddling, fishing, and tubing, the WRP has been keeping a close eye on E. coli levels in an effort to understand and combat potential sources of pathogens.

Since 2001, almost half of the sites monitored by the WRP have revealed high E. coli counts according to the State’s accepted safe swimming standard of 77 organisms per 100ml of water. Because Vermont’s standard is the strictest in the nation, the WRP also uses the Environmental Protection Agency’s national standard of 235 organisms per 100ml sample. Only one monitoring site on the Middle Branch regularly exceeded this federal standard in 2006.

The larger tributaries to the White River, including Ayer’s Brook, the Third, Middle, and First Branches, routinely experience high E. coli levels after rain storms. A heavy rain can cause E. coli levels to jump. In areas where the only source of E. coli is that which occurs naturally, heavy rain does not have much of an effect on E. coli levels. However in areas where there are additional sources of E. coli, such as leaking septic systems, waterfowl, livestock, and pets, heavy rain storms can cause E. coli levels to increase dramatically.

Because of its close relationship to public health, we make the E. coli results available to the public each Thursday, via email, mail and our website. If you would like to receive the weekly E. coli results directly, please call (802) 767-4600.

Summer Events

Summer Events

June 12, 2007

You are invited to join the WRP this summer…

FARMER’S FAT TUESDAY – Tuesday, June 12, The Farmer’s Diner, Quechee, 4:30 – 7:30pm

The Farmer’s Diner in Quechee Village is donating 15% of their dinner food sales to the WRP on Tuesday, June 12. We invite you to join us, eat well and benefit our local nonprofit organization. Reservations are encouraged: 295-4600. For more information about community partnerships with the Farmer’s Diner, visit their website.

CLEAN WATER DAY – Saturday, June 9, Montshire Museum, Norwich, 10:00am – 2:00pm

The Governor’s Clean and Clear Program is hosting the second annual Clean Water Day to recognize the good work that Vermonters do to improve and maintain water quality in our lakes, ponds and rivers. This year’s celebration will feature events and projects in the Connecticut River Basin. The festivities this year kick-off in the morning with the Governor’s Press Event and Family Fun Day at the Montshire Museum (museum admission, $9 adults, $7 children). For more information about this and other events happening around the state, visit their website.

AYERS BROOK PUBLIC MEETING – Tuesday, June 5, Randolph Union High School, 6:00 – 8:00pm

Landowners along Ayers Brook and other interested community members are invited to join the WRP, the VT Water Quality Division, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Two Rivers Ottauquechee Regional Commission, and Bear Creek Environmental to discuss the corridor management plan we are developing for Ayers Brook. Refreshments will be served.

EXOTIC INVASIVE PLANT WALK – Saturday, June 2, Royalton Academy building, 9:00am – 12:00pm

Celebrate Trails Day by joining us for a walkabout to identify non-native invasive plants. Mike Bald, who removes non-native invasive plants for the US Forest Service, will lead the walkabout.

For more information about these events, please contact us.

New Faces at the WRP

New Faces at the WRP

March 26, 2007

A big welcome to all the new faces at the WRP over the past 6 months. Introducing…


Melissa Sharkis is managing the 2007 Water Quality Monitoring Program. Melissa has a background in aquatic science and recently graduated from the Master’s program at Vermont Law School. Originally from Connecticut, Melissa volunteers her free time with the fire & rescue squad in Royalton.


Matt LaMothe is our 2007 Water Quality Monitoring Intern. He has previous experience monitoring water quality in his home watershed – the Saugus River Watershed in eastern Massachusetts. Matt is pursuing a law degree at Vermont Law School and lives in South Royalton.


Carl Russell joined the WRP Board in March. Carl is a founding member of the Forestry Work Group and has helped developed a forest tour series designed to highlight various aspects of land use in the watershed. Carl is a consultant forester and horse-logger and he and his family operate Earthwise Farm & Forest in Bethel-Gilead.

Kathy and Peter

Kathy and Peter Leonard are helping maintain the WRP membership database. Kathy has been involved with the WRP since 2001 as a water quality monitor and she and Peter were original members of the Second Branch Stream Team. Peter is also the Treasurer of the WRP Board of Directors. Kathy and Peter live in Randolph Center.


Mike Bald managed the 2007 Trees for Streams Program. Mike has been involved with the WRP since working on the Forest Service Fish Crew in 2002. Since then, Mike has worked part-time for the Forest Service in Rutland on NEPA projects and has helped the Rochester Ranger Station remove non-native invasive plant species in the White River watershed. When he’s not working, Mike is renovating his home in Royalton village.


Tammy Henry coordinated a landowner outreach campaign this spring. Tammy is a Master’s student at Vermont Law School and will complete her degree this summer. She is originally from Cortez, Colorado, but she and her dog, Pickle, currently live in Royalton.


Becky Hooper joined the WRP Board in December 2006. Becky has been involved with the WRP since 2001, first as a water quality monitor, then as the 2002 Water Quality Monitoring Intern, and finally as a member of the Down Stream Team. Becky is originally from West Hartford and works with VINS as the Communications and Program Manager.


Shawn Lenihan helped the WRP gather Phase 2 stream geomorphic assessment data on the Tweed River during fall 2006 and entered the data into the state’s Data Management System over the winter. Shawn’s work laid the groundwork to complete a corridor plan on the Tweed River this summer. Shawn and his wife, Megan, worked on the Forest Service Fish Crew last summer and live in Rochester.


Abby Armstrong joined the WRP Board in September 2006. Abby brings her experience chairing the ACLU Board Fundraising Committee to the WRP and was instrumental in organizing our 2006 Annual Meeting Auction. Abby directs the Office of Career Services at Vermont Law School and lives with her two dogs, Tango and Toots, in Sharon.

Mongolia Watershed Presentation

Mongolia Watershed Presentation

February 09, 2007

On January 25 at the Montshire Museum of Science, Randolph residents Jenna Guarino, a watershed educator, and Ed Delhagen, a sustainable development specialist, spoke about their travels to Mongolia to help launch an ambitious project called Securing Our Future. Jenna and Ed’s beautiful slideshow highlighted their experiences helping the citizens of Mongolia create watershed protection policies and a nationwide river monitoring program in 2006. This presentation was the first event in the WRP’s 2007 Education Series, which is designed to raise awareness about watershed issues and to promote local stewardship. Thanks to Jenna and Ed for an inspiring presentation and to the Montshire Museum and the Upper Valley Food Cooperative for co-hosting this event!

2006 Sami Izzo Award

2006 Sami Izzo Award

December 14, 2006

In 2006, the WRP presented the Sami Izzo Award to Dan McKinley. The award is given to individuals in recognition of their significant contributions to the WRP and our community. Sami Izzo was a tireless, committed, and enthusiastic supporter of the WRP. She was the first chair of the Down Stream Team and served on the Executive, Steering, and Outreach committees of the WRP Board of Directors. She not only contributed her thoughts, but also energized us with her can-do attitude that helped us see that doing more was possible.

Dan’s contributions to the WRP are significant. A fisheries biologist with the Green Mountain National Forest in Rochester, Dan has been involved with the WRP since its inception. Dan served on the first Board of Directors and from 2000 through 2005 was the WRP Projects Manager. Since 2005, Dan has continued this work on a volunteer basis – making site visits; designing restoration projects; writing permits; and overseeing project implementation. In addition, Dan is an active volunteer with the Upper River Stream Team.

According to Board member Geo Honigford, Dan’s energy and enthusiasm exemplify Sami’s example: “I can think of no one better that fits into Sami’s example and has enhanced the health of the White River as much as our honoree Dan McKinley. Dan is all of what Sami was: full of energy, lively, dependable, and fun. He is a pure joy to work with and his energy for and love of the White River help motivate others to try a little harder. Dan has taught the Partnership members and citizens of the White River valley more about how rivers work than any other person on the planet. He truly is Mister White River.” Thank you, Dan, and congratulations!