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Online resource keeps river users healthy


Thursday, June 09, 2016
IN THE NEWSOnline resource keeps river users healthy

In time for the summer recreation season, the Connecticut River Watershed Council and 16 partners have launched the 2016 Connecticut River water sampling program.

Water samples are tested for E. coli bacteria as an indicator for all types of other pathogens that could potentially make people sick. River users can visit the “Is It Clean” web page at www.ConnecticutRiver.us to find bacteria test results at more than 147 river access and recreation sites in Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and northern Connecticut.

Samples are typically collected at each site weekly or biweekly and test results are posted online 24 hours later, through early October.

“When weather gets warm, people head to our rivers to cool off and have fun, and they want to know if our rivers are clean. The data tells us that it is a good idea to stay out of the water for 24-48 hours after a heavy rain because bacteria levels could be high,” said watershed council lower river steward Alicea Charamut in a statement. “Heavy rain is often the cause of high bacteria levels. Bacteria can spike after a storm due to combined sewer overflows and polluted stormwater runoff from urban, suburban, and agricultural areas.”

Water sample results are color-coded and map-based to offer guidance about whether the water is clean enough for swimming and boating. Results are a snapshot of river conditions at the moment the sample was taken, but give river users information they can use to make informed decisions and prevent potential illness.

The website provides bacteria data for the Connecticut River and more than 20 tributaries, including the Mill River in Northampton,  Mill River/Lake Warner in Hadley and Chicopee River.

Differing views on Ohio’s Lake Erie strategy 

TOLEDO, Ohio — Ohio's attempt at slowing down the toxic algae turning Lake Erie green hinges on a plan that some environmental groups say relies too much on voluntary programs and lacks the sense of urgency needed to thwart the growing threat to the region’s drinking water.

The state’s strategy outlined recently by Ohio's Environmental Protection Agency is centered on new regulations and programs put in place within the past year.

Now the question is will it be enough to thwart the algae blooms.

How well those changes — stopping farmers from spreading manure on frozen fields and encouraging them to use the right amount of fertilizer — work won't be known for a couple more years.

—Associated Press

THE REGULATORS

The following are recent state Department of Environmental Protection consent orders and penalty assessments in western Massachusetts.

CONSENT ORDER FOR WATER POLLUTION CONTROL VIOLATIONS, April 14, Whately: Entered into a consent order with a $16,500 penalty involving Chang & Sons Inc. for violations at the Chang Farms wastewater treatment plant and its water discharge permit. The order requires Chang Farms to evaluate the wastewater treatment plant and propose a solution and schedule to correct the permit violations. The order also requires Chang Farms to staff the facilities in accordance with the regulations to update its sampling and analysis program; update its operation and maintenance manual; and calibrate all flow meters and laboratory equipment. MassDEP has agreed to suspend $6,500 of the penalty provided Chang Farms complies with the requirements of the order.

UNILATERAL ORDER FOR WATER SUPPLY VIOLATIONS, April 14, Sunderland: Issued a unilateral order to Northland Investment Corp. in Sunderland for water supply violations. Northland Investment Corp. is the owner of the Cliffside Apartments community public water system located in Sunderland.  The order was issued to Northland in response to its request for a declaration of a state of water emergency. This declaration is needed to approve an alternate/emergency source while its tanks were drained and inspected. Under the declaration, Cliffside Apartments will implement its emergency plan and emergency interconnection with Sunderland Water District.