BRAT to monitor bacteria levels at swimming areas

Twenty-Foot Hole
Twenty-Foot Hole. Photo by New England Waterfalls

REGION – Thinking ahead to sizzling summer days under bright skies, the Black River Action Team is excited to announce that plans are in place to once again monitor bacteria levels at popular swimming holes.

Trained volunteers will set out with sealed bottles each week from Memorial Day through Labor Day, to carefully collect a water sample to be sent to the folks at Endyne Labs Inc. in Lebanon, N.H. for testing.

To offset the cost of testing and weekly volunteer mileage throughout the summer, several sites have been sponsored through BRAT’s Adopt-a-Swimming-Hole program: Buttermilk Falls in Ludlow is again adopted by Okemo Mountain Resort; Greven Field in Proctorsville thanks Betty McEneany of TPW Realty for a second year of sponsorship; Cavendish Gorge boasts signage and sponsorship from Green Mountain Power again; and Twenty-Foot Hole on the North Branch of the Black River in Reading is new to the roster this year, adopted for 2020 by the Greater Upper Valley chapter of Trout Unlimited.

The small pond on West Hill Road is adopted for the second year by Vermont Co-Pack. This site is being monitored in preparation for potentially reopening the pond to public recreation in the near future. While not open for swimming yet, BRAT is working with the town of Ludlow on establishing the health of the pond so we can be sure it’s consistently meeting the EPA’s benchmark for safe swimming.

Tolles Power Dam off Maple Street in Perkinsville still needs sponsorship for sampling. By donation from Endyne, BRAT monitors an additional site on the North Branch just beyond the foot of Mount Ascutney. Tolles Dam is a popular public swimming and wading site, while the North Branch site is of concern for the state of Vermont for bacteria, nutrients, and sediment.

BRAT wishes to sincerely thank the adopting sponsors by presenting each with an “adoption certificate” for the sampling season. The “adoption fee” covers the costs of testing as well as volunteer mileage to the site every Wednesday and often again on Friday to post a chart for visitors. While there is usually an ambient level of bacteria naturally in the water, wet weather can wash in contaminants from the shore, so it is recommended to stay out of the river or stream for at least 24 hours after a heavy rain and anytime the water appears cloudy.

Learn more about the Black River Action Team’s many projects and programs by visiting or leave a voice message at 802-738-0456.

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