Irene Aftermath: Testing Riverbeds and Streams For E. coli

river rapids photo

Photo: wrakky

Much of the effects of Irene have been felt after the Hurricane barreled through the East Coast. Scientists have been particularly concerned about water quality throughout areas hit hard by the storm. Federal officials are testing riverbeds and streams for E. coli and pesticides in the aftermath of a storm that did upwards of $3 billion in damage and took 40 lives.
Authorities across the Northeast warned residents not to go into the the water because of fears of disease and toxins.

"The river moved a lot of stuff during this high water. It moved toxins, pathogens, large objects (most of which were flowing) but some of which was beneath the surface, so I'm advising people to stay off the river with boats, canoes and kayaks until the water clears," David Deen, river steward for the Connecticut River Watershed Council for Vermont and New Hampshire, told the Reformer.

According to Food Safety News, "[t]he USGS Water Science Centers are collecting samples from the Charles River, Connecticut River, Delaware River, Hudson River, Raritan River, and the Susquehanna River, and testing them for nutrients, sediment, carbon, E. coli and pesticides."

When the water rose, fields and grounds eroded rapidly and household debris was washed into the rivers and streams along with sewage. All these factors can result in higher concentrations of E. coli in water sources used for drinking water.

"With the additional runoff, the E. coli levels probably are pretty high since there is quite an additional value of water," Laurie Callahan, a coordinator with the Southeastern Vermont Watershed Alliance told the Reformer. "E. coli could come from those sources, like agricultural runoff from farms ... E. coli also tends to attach to soil particles, of which there are many more in the water now than there typically are."

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