October 31, 2006
The sixth season of our Water Quality Monitoring program is officially complete. Launched in 2001, the program goal is to better understand potential threats to water quality and public health by keeping tabs at over 20 sites throughout the watershed, including popular swimming holes and locations that have the potential to become contaminated. Every Wednesday morning during the summer, a team of volunteers measure water temperature, water clarity, and electrical conductivity, and collect water samples that are tested for E.coli, nitrogen and phosphorus. We share the results of our weekly E.coli testing with the public by posting them on our website, emailing them to interested people, and publishing a yearly E.coli Results Summary.
Now that the 2006 season is complete, we can compare this year’s data to previous years’ data. While overall water quality in the White River watershed is relatively good, problems do exist. Sedimentation and erosion continue to be the most prominent water quality concerns, followed by elevated water temperatures, nutrients, and pathogens – all of which contribute to reduced habitat for fish and other aquatic life. The presence of pathogens and other chemicals can pose serious threats to human health as well.
During the last five years, almost half of the 24 sites we monitored have revealed high E.coli counts according to the State’s accepted safe swimming standard of 77 organisms per 100ml sample. 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. Five sites regularly exceeded this federal standard in 2006, which was on par with the 2005 data.
The WRP uses the results of the monitoring program to prioritize restoration projects. For example, the monitoring program results consistently show that the White River’s larger tributaries, including the First, Middle and Third Branches and Ayer’s Brook, have chronically high E.coli counts, with the majority of sites exceeding both standards for safe recreational contact. To address these threats, our Trees for Streams program focused on the First and Middle Branches in 2005 and 2006, and will focus on the Third Branch in 2007. And this fall, the WRP has initiated a corridor planning project on Ayers Brook.
Each year the WRP hires an intern to coordinate the monitoring program. This year, UVM graduate Luke Krisch did a terrific job training the volunteers, testing the water samples for E.coli bacteria, entering the data into our database, and sharing the results with the public. In addition, Luke surveyed 10 of our 15 permanent cross-sections, which were established to gather baseline data about the watershed. Thank you, Luke!
Our volunteer-driven water quality monitoring program is a prime example of how the WRP strives to engage community members to promote the long-term health of our watershed. By making people aware of potential threats to water quality and human health, we can work together to address them.
September 05, 2006
As summer turns into fall, the White River Partnership is experiencing change of its own. Annie Bourdon, who directed the Partnership for nearly two years, has moved to Burlington to pursue graduate training in non-profit management. Annie’s tenure as executive director was marked by energy and enthusiasm, and her legacy includes a new brand identity, a new office accounting system, a solid foundation of grant funding, and a laundry list of projects throughout the watershed. The Partnership will continue to benefit from the good will Annie fostered within our watershed community and the staff and board want to extend their heartfelt thanks to her. Annie, we wish you well in all of your future endeavors!
As a result of Annie’s departure, the Board hired long-time Down Stream Team volunteer, Mary Russ, to direct the Partnership’s efforts. Originally from Memphis, Tennessee, Mary moved to Vermont in 2000 to attend Vermont Law School’s Master of Studies in Environmental Law program. Since graduation, Mary has worked as a reporter for the Vermont Environmental Monitor, a facilitator with a management consulting company, and as a career counselor at the law school. She lives with her husband, Greg, in Royalton, and is a commissioner on Royalton’s Conservation Commission. Mary is thrilled to be the new executive director and looks forward to continuing Annie’s good work in the watershed.
September 01, 2006
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!
Individual donors funded the implementation of the Hurricane Flats Farm streambank restoration project – an innovative streambank restoration project designed to improve water quality, habitat, and flood resiliency in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene.
The WRP and its partners identify and implement culvert replacement and retrofit projects to improve fish passage, connect vital habitats, and increase native fish populations.