State Determines that Winooski River is Safe for Recreational Use


DATE: April 18, 2005

Contact: Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation
Communications Coordinator

BURLINGTON, VT – Lab tests on water samples from around the sewage line break in the Winooski River last week show that the river is now safe for recreational use. Tests were done for both E. coli and fecal coliforms, bacteria normally found at low levels in rivers due to runoff, but which would be expected to be at higher levels as a result of a sewage leak.

“The Health Department Lab tested a total of 16 samples of river water from above the break, just below the break at Heineberg Bridge, further downstream and at the mouth of the river, “ said Cort Lohff, state epidemiologist at the Vermont Department of Health. “E.coli measurements were low and this indicates that the water is safe for recreational use again.”

“The environmental impact of the sewage leak was less at this time of year than it would have been during the summertime because river flows were so high,” said Wallace McLean, director of the Water Quality Division at the Department of Environmental Conservation.

“At its worst, sewage spilled into the river at about one cubic foot per second. At the time the Winooski River was flowing at 4,000–20,000 cubic feet per second, so the sewage was diluted in a huge amount of water even before it reached the lake,” McLean said.