In Daniel Walton’s article about our State of the French Broad River Watershed report [“Streaming Data: MountainTrue Report Assesses Health of Region’s Waterways” Aug. 22, Xpress], Jen Ditzler, co-owner of Zen Tubing, accuses MountainTrue of a “conflict of interest” and cooking the data on the cleanliness of the French Broad River to boost donations.
Let’s set the record straight.
MountainTrue is a member-supported nonprofit whose staff and volunteers take samples from across four watersheds and report data on chemical, sediment and bacterial pollution. All of this data collection and analysis is done according to standard protocols developed by experts other than MountainTrue.
This work has been instrumental in getting Duke Energy to excavate its coal ash and put an end to its pollution of the French Broad River. Our monitoring programs have also helped us track down gasoline seeps and illegal piping of animal waste from farms, and led us on expeditions into the sewers below the River Arts District to track down a leaking pipe.
Is the French Broad River cleaner than 80, 50, 20 and even 10 years ago? No doubt. We should and do celebrate that, but we are not finished. My job as the Riverkeeper is to find and address ongoing pollution problems. I have to follow the data, and the data shows that, despite great progress, we still have a pollution problem on the French Broad and that it’s not always safe to be out on the water.
I would love nothing more than for the river to be so clean that I’m out of a job. But until that day, we will continue monitoring the river, reporting the data and working hard to stop pollution that makes the river unsafe.
— Hartwell Carson
French Broad Riverkeeper