Bacterial pollution in the French Broad watershed is extremely prevalent, but largely undetected and therefore unresolved. Bacteria in our streams comes from a variety of sources, including leaking sewer lines, faulty septic systems, straight piped sewage, animal waste, and other sources.
The French Broad Watershed in North Carolina covers more than 2,800 square miles. In 2008, more than 15 percent of streams in the watershed were impaired for bacterial pollution.
Ross Creek is an important tributary to the Swannanoa River and a stream that is frequently used for swimming. This stream had previously not been sampled for bacteria, but recent samples show bacteria more than 20 times the safe amount. Bacteria impairment is a significant health concern as it can make humans very sick while also impairing aquatic life. Despite the importance of understanding bacteria pollution, knowledge about its distribution has hardly begun to scratch the surface.
Our monitoring program will put volunteers in the stream, with the proper equipment, to determine if streams used for swimming are safe for this use. We will sample these streams until the sources of impairment are found and eliminated.