MountainTrue issues July 23 swim guide results for the French Broad River

Press release from MountainTrue: 

Each Thursday afternoon throughout the spring, summer and fall, the French Broad Riverkeeper releases new, up-to-date bacteria monitoring results for approximately 30 of the French Broad River’s most popular streams and recreation areas. Results are posted to the Swim Guide website at — the public’s best resource for knowing which streams and river recreation areas are safe to swim in, and which have failed to meet safe water quality standards for bacteria pollution.

The Swim Guide lists each testing site as either passing or failing according to the EPA limit for E. coli in recreational waters of 235 cfu (or colony forming units) per 100 milliliters.

This Week’s Results:

Out of 35 sites tested this week, six sites met the EPA standard for E.coli. The cleanest access points along the French Broad River are as follows:

  • Big Laurel Creek

  • French Broad at Hot Springs

  • Hooker Falls at Dupont

  • Lower Pigeon Takeout

  • Pigeon River at Hartford

  • Walter’s Power Plant at Waterville/Upper Pigeon

The 29 sites that did not pass the EPA’s limit are as follows:

  • Cane Creek at Fletcher Park

  • French Broad at Barnard

  • French Broad at Bent Creek River Park

  • Champion Park in Rosman

  • Hap Simpson

  • French Broad at Hominy Creek Park

  • Horseshoe Boat Access

  • French Broad at Hwy 191 – Mills River, NC

  • Ledges Whitewater Park

  • Pearson Bridge

  • Penrose: Crab Creek Rd

  • Pisgah Forest Access Point

  • RAD Craven St. Bridge

  • Westfeldt Park

  • Woodfin River Park

  • Flat Creek at Montreat

  • Buncombe County Sports Park

  • Hominy Creek Greenway

  • Mills River Boat Access

  • Mud Creek at Brookside Camp Rd

  • Mud Creek at Hendersonville (7th Ave)

  • Pigeon River at Canton Rec Park

  • Pigeon River at Waynesville

  • Reem’s Creek Karpen Soccer Fields

  • Rhododendron Creek at West Asheville Park

  • Spring Creek in Hot Springs, NC

  • Swannanoa River at Azalea Soccer Fields

  • Swannanoa at Charles D. Owen

  • Shiloh Community Garden

“Only 17 percent of our testing sites met the EPA standard for E.coli for this week, which means a majority of the sites failed,” said French Broad Riverkeeper Hartwell Carson. “Rain causes more bacteria to flow into our waterways through urban and agricultural runoff, which is most likely why these E.coli readings are higher than last week. Make sure to check the results before making any plans this weekend.”

Samples are collected on Wednesdays, processed using the Idexx system, incubated for 24 hours, and results are analyzed and posted on Thursday afternoons. Results are available on the Swim Guide website ( or on the smartphone app, available for Android and Apple iPhones. 

E.coli bacteria makes its way into our rivers and streams from sewer/septic leaks and stormwater runoff – especially runoff from animal agricultural operations with substandard riparian buffers. E.coli can also indicate the presence of other more harmful microbes, such as Cryptosporidium, Giardia, Shigella, and norovirus. Heavy rains and storms often result in spikes in E.coli contamination, increasing the risk to human health. Contact with or consumption of contaminated water can cause gastrointestinal illness, skin, ear, respiratory, eye, neurologic, and wound infections. The most commonly reported symptoms are stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and low-grade fever.

In general, waterways that are located in more remote areas or near protected public lands that lack a lot of agriculture, development or industrial pollution sources are the cleanest and will be less affected by stormwater runoff. Areas closer to development and polluting agricultural practices are much more heavily impacted.

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