As of last Thursday, HooRWA has begun water testing for the season! After being trained by our friend Alison Dixon from our partnering organization, Housatonic Valley Association (HVA), the HooRWA team was ready to go. Thom Gentle and I (as well as our executive director Arianna Collins on occasion) are taking samples from nine locations along the river and its tributaries throughout Williamstown and North Adams. We’re working with Bruce Winn and the lab at Berkshire Community College to test our samples and send us the results.
Despite some struggles with mud and rose bushes, we managed to collect all of our samples with time to spare, while also seeing some wonderful views of the river. We’re testing for E.coli, which is an indicator of many other potentially harmful bacteria. Our chosen stations should help to determine where bacteria is coming from should it be detectable, and also determine which parts of the river are safe for fishing, swimming, and other activities. In addition to sites that may be impacted by agriculture, we are sampling one site directly downstream from an unofficial swimming hole at Linear Park to assess potential human impact.
The water was higher in most of our locations than it normally is in June, presumably because of the rains last week, so we’re factoring that into our results. Looking at the forecast for the next few weeks, it seems that rain will impact the river again. Heavy rains can sometimes flush bacteria from aging septic and sewer systems into rivers and streams.
As long as it’s safe to go out (i.e. not thundering and lightning) we will still sample. If the waters are too high to sample from the middle of the river or tributary, then we will sample from shore.
Thom and I look forward to our sampling sessions coming up this summer, and we’re excited to share our findings with you all at the end of the season!
By Lucas Forman, HooRWA Intern, Brandeis University