Friends of the Winooski River is a group dedicated to the health and restoration of the river, its tributaries, and watersheds. In pursuit of this, volunteers collect hundreds of water samples from 39 sites in the capital area and the headwaters (Cabot, Marshfield, Plainfield) on six dates each summer.
Of all the capital area sampling sites, the cleanest water for swimming was found at the “Pebble Beach” swimming area at North Branch Nature Center, where the E. coli bacteria level is usually below the state standard for swimming. However, it is important to note that when it rains, the bacteria level goes way up, even at the Nature Center. The E. coli level after a moderate amount of rain can be 20 times higher than usual, so they do not recommend swimming for 24–48 hours afterwards, as rain washes pet waste, soil, and other pollutants off the land and into the rivers.
To increase the number of clean-water swimming holes in the area, Friends of the Winooski recommends taking the following steps:
- Direct downspouts from your roof so that water does not fall onto paved surfaces;
- Build rain gardens or swales;
- Improve drainage to prevent erosion around driveways and walkways;
- Plant bare areas on property to reduce erosion;
- Reduce area of mowing to allow native plants to flourish;
- Scoop up pet poop and put in trash;
- Use minimal fertilizer on lawn;
- Maintain lawn height of 3-4 inches;
- Collect yard waste for compost and keep from clogging storm drains;
- Sweep up sand, salt, soil, and grass from driveway instead of washing into storm drains;
- Join Friends of the Winooski’s Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring team! Volunteers collect stream samples on a biweekly basis throughout the summer in the Cabot/Marshfield/Plainfield and Barre/Montpelier areas. Sampling takes about 15 minutes per site, and volunteers can sample from one or more sites. No experience necessary and training is provided. The 2018 sampling dates are June 26, July 10, July 24, Aug 7, Aug 21, and Sept 4. Volunteers can choose to sample on one or all of those dates. Sign up at winooskiriver.org