MountainTrue issues July 9 Swim Guide results for French Broad

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 32 sites tested this week, nine sites met the EPA standard for E. coli. The cleanest access points — those with zero detection of E.coli along the French Broad River — are as follows.
  • Pigeon River at Hartford
  • Walter’s Power Plant at Waterville/Upper Pigeon
The other sites that passed were: 
  • Big Laurel Creek
  • Ledges Whitewater Park
  • Flat Creek in Montreat
  • Little River – Hooker Falls, Dupont
  • Pigeon at Lower Pigeon Takeout
  • Pigeon River- Canton Rec Park
  • Pigeon River at Waynesville
The 23 sites that did not pass the EPA’s limit are as follows:
  • Hap Simpson
  • Hominy Creek Greenway
  • Hominy Creek at the Buncombe County Sports Park
  • Cane Creek at Fletcher Community Park
  • Mud Creek at Brookside Camp Road
  • Mud Creek at Hendersonville
  • French Broad at Barnard
  • French Broad at Bent Creek River Park
  • French Broad at Hominy Creek Park
  • French Broad at Horseshoe Boat Access
  • French Broad at Hot Springs
  • French Broad at Highway 191 – Mills River, NC
  • Pearson Bridge
  • French Broad at Penrose Access
  • French Broad at Pisgah Forest Access Area
  • French Broad at RAD – Craven St. Bridge
  • French Broad at Westfeldt Park
  • French Broad at Woodfin River Park
  • Mills River Boat Access
  • Reem’s Creek Karpen Soccer Fields
  • Spring Creek in Hot Springs, NC
  • Swannanoa River at Azalea Soccer Fields
  • Swannanoa at Charles D. Owen

“This week’s results are a good indicator of what a little rain does to the system. We had a bit of rain Tuesday, which oftentimes causes E. coli levels to increase,” explains French Broad Riverkeeper Hartwell Carson. “The EPA’s limit is based on total submersion, so if you’re looking to get on the river this weekend and your favorite site is listed as dirty, there are ways to mitigate the risk of getting sick from E.coli levels. Look to do activities where your head is less likely to go underwater such as canoeing, paddle-boarding, kayaking and tubing. And when you get off the river, wash any open wounds with soap and water. Go to to take action and help us make all of the sites safe for swimming.”

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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