Heavy rain causes river bacteria levels to rise


SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Earth Day was started 50 years ago and rivers like the Connecticut River are a lot cleaner than they were back then.

But heavy rain and snow melt this time of year can have an affect on the river.

“Connecticut River Conservancy and many partners and volunteers have done testing for many years of the river during recreation season and that data has shown that after rain bacteria levels do spike and that’s something river users should be aware about,” said Angela Chaffee, the Communications Director for the Connecticut River Conservancy.

During heavy rain, untreated sewage and polluted storm water runoff can make its way into the river and it can contain bacteria like E. coli.

Testing from 2019 shows how much E. coli levels can go up in some areas during wet weather, making it unsafe for swimming and boating.

“We recommend folks avoid the river 24 to 48 hours after a heavy rain, that gives time for the river to flush itself and for those bacteria levels to go back down,” said Angela Chaffee.

Research is now underway to determine if COVID-19 remains infectious in freshwater or after passing through wastewater treatment plants.

Here’s where you can find the bacteria test results from the Connecticut River Conservancy. Water samples are collected from late May through early October

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