FOMR's Water Quality Monitoring
There are many ways to measure the health of a river, depending on the type of problems and pollutants the river experiences. Middle River is a mostly rural river with little industry on it. The following FOMR programs help us keep tabs on the health of Middle River.
E. coli Monitoring
E. coli or Escherichia coli is a bacteria found in fecal matter. Domestic pets and livestock as well as wild animals with access to the river may defecate directly into the river, or they may defecate nearby and the fecal matter dissolves and runs off into the river with rain or floods. E. coli in the water can make it unsafe for people to recreate in the river. FOMR uses the standard of 235 Colony Forming Units per 100 milliliters of water (235CFU/100ml) as the upper limit for what is considered safe water for swimming and boating. As a reference, the drinking water safety limit is 0 CFU/100ml of water. Click the button below to read all about our E. coli program and to see the data we've collected!
Benthic Macroinvertebrate Monitoring
Benthic macroinvertebrate monitoring is a great way of assessing stream health because our monitoring instruments – benthic macroinvertebrates (aquatic insects and other critters) – are present in the river all of the time. The population of benthic macroinvertebrates as a whole is very sensitive to every kind of degradation of stream habitat. Determining characteristics of the benthic macroinvertebrate population, such as biodiversity and quantities of various types of aquatic critters, provides an excellent report card on the health of the Middle River. Teams of trained FOMR volunteers use nets to catch samples of aquatic critters. The critters are then identified and counted at the stream and released. This process is effective and fun. Click the button below to read all about our benthic program and to see the data we’ve collected!
Nutrient pollution occurs when too many nutrients, mainly nitrogen and phosphorus, get into the river. These act like fertilizers and cause excessive algae growth and can lead to low levels of dissolved oxygen in the water. E. coli is also a nutrient pollution. The primary sources of nutrient pollution are runoff of fertilizers, animal manure, improper sewage treatment plant discharges, detergents that contain phosphorus, storm water runoff, cars, power plants, failing septic systems and pet waste.
Chloride Salt Monitoring
In order to keep roads safe for driving, every year the Virginia Department of Transportation dispenses tons of road salt onto our roads to melt ice in the winter. A growing concern in some parts of the state is how much salt runoff our rivers can handle before it becomes a significant source of pollution. Over the winter of 2018-2019, FOMR piloted a program to measure and report levels of salt in Middle River.
Click the button below to read all about our salt program and to see the data we've collected!