BLACK RIVER WATERSHED, Vt. — Summer means outdoors in New England, and the Black River watershed has no shortage of great spots to access the water. Thanks to the volunteers of the Black River Action Team, several popular swimming holes continue to be sampled each week throughout the summer to keep tabs on bacteria levels. Since E. coli bacteria are present in the gut of every warm-blooded creature, from goose to beaver to moose to human, some level of E. coli is normal in every freshwater system.
Samples are tested at Endyne Labs in Lebanon for a count of E. coli colonies as an indicator of the potential presence of other harmful pathogens. BRAT generates a chart based on the weekly results, posting it online through the BRAT’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/BlackRiverActionTeam) and on site at Buttermilk Falls in Ludlow as well as at Greven Field in Proctorsville. This summer, thanks to support from Green Mountain Power, the Cavendish Gorge historic swimming area boasts two new signposts with chart-holders (courtesy of Acrylic Designs Inc of Springfield) to keep bathers informed about water quality trends.
Buttermilk Falls is just a few miles away on Branch Brook, a tributary to the Black River that boasts several pleasant pools for dipping. For several summers, Okemo Mountain Resort has “adopted” the Falls swimming area, making a generous donation of $500 annually to cover signage, volunteer time and mileage, and the cost of the weekly lab tests.
BRAT wishes to thank both Okemo Mountain Resort and Green Mountain Power for their adoption of two of the five swimming holes tested by BRAT’s “River Dipper” volunteers each week; a special shout-out goes to Endyne Labs as well, for donating several hundred dollars worth of lab fees each year.
Anyone wishing to formally adopt Greven Field’s public access area or support the BRAT’s water quality monitoring program is encouraged to reach out to Black River Action Team Director Kelly Stettner at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message at (802) 738-0456. Donations can be mailed directly to BRAT at 101 Perley Gordon Road, Springfield VT 05156.