The Broad River Watershed Association (BRWA) is working with the Northeast Georgia Regional Development Center (RDC) and the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) to monitor a five-mile segment of the Broad River in Madison County for fecal coliform bacteria.
“A 1997-1998 survey by EPD had identified the river segment from SR 281 to Scull Shoal Creek near Danielsville as one of a number of Georgia’s waterways that failed to comply with state healthy water quality standards” said EPD’s Communications/Outreach Specialist Mary Gazaway. “Because no new water quality data had been reported to Georgia EPD since the listing ten years ago, we asked RDC to develop a program to retest this stretch of the river.”
Under a contract with EPD, Lee Carmon, Planning Director - General Counsel, Northeast Georgia RDC, is working with BRWA volunteers to use state-approved techniques for collecting and transporting water samples from river sites to a licensed laboratory for fecal coliform testing.
Test results from the University of Georgia’s Agricultural and Environmental Services Laboratories in Athens will be used by EPD to update their biannual 305b/303d Report on Water Quality in Georgia — a report required under the Federal Clean Water Act.
The BRWA is also one of a few select groups in Georgia who are working with EPD’s Adopt A Stream Program to evaluate a new inexpensive method for testing for water-borne bacteria. In the new procedure, “petrifilms” and a small molded Styrofoam egg incubator are used to test for the fecal coliform bacteria E. coli.
“Georgia Adopt-A-Stream is proud to announce this new tool in our water monitoring efforts,” said Harold Harbert, Manager, Outreach Unit, Georgia EPD Non-Point Source Program. “In the past, citizen participation in this process has been cost prohibitive and usually has involved sending water samples to laboratories.”
The presence of E. coli and other fecal coliform bacteria in water can indicate failures in septic tanks and community sewerage systems and problems with stormwater runoff, but agricultural livestock and wildlife can also contribute to the problem. “The ability to quickly and easily sample multiple sites for E.coli bacteria will help locate ‘hot spots’ and prioritize community resources to clean up the stream and make the water healthy again,” said Pat Kelly, Secretary, BRWA.