River Voice – May

Water is Life and clean water means health. Audrey Hepburn 

Ahhh, May. Flowers are blooming, the birds are singing and the water in Little River is crystal clear, making it very inviting. Oh, but I know better. That water is COLD!!

Memorial weekend will bring visitors from all around who want to experience the world in which we live. In 2014, Travel and Leisure magazine listed Little River #1 out of 20 swimming holes in the nation. Since then, Eco tourism has exploded and is the #1 industry in DeKalb County. With the swim season is upon us,  Little River Waterkeeper will keep you up-to-date on weekly water quality results. We will take water samples on Little River from your favorite swimming holes and post test results each Friday on theswimguide.org, just in time for the weekend. Just go under Beach Finder and the app will zoom to your location.

2020 Test Sites: 1. DeSoto Falls, West Fork 2. Middle Fork @ Lake Lahusage 3. East Fork at Lake Lahusage  4. West Fork at Indian Falls (DSP) 5. Little River Blue Hole 6. Little River at Little Falls (Martha’s Falls) 7. Little River Mouth Park (once reopened)

In the April River Voice, I touched on, “what” we test for. To recap, our state certified lab conducts tests for: E Coli – a common bacteria found in warm blooded mammals that can enter Little River through runoff because of failing septic systems. PH – determines the acidity and alkalinity in the water sample. Dissolved Oxygen helps us determine if our fish and other organisms are living in a healthy habitat. Turbidity measures the cloudiness in Little River and helps determine how much run-off is suspended in the water table and Nitrogen measures agricultural runoff from fields.

So, why is this preventative measure important for us to understand the overall health of Little River and our impact on the Little River Watershed? Little River is truly the lifeblood of the Mentone area. Thousands of youth attend local summer camps and visitors flock to Little River to enjoy its refreshing waters. Water testing for E Coli and other pollutants, makes sure that our local swimming holes are safe and meet state water quality standards and prevent you from coming in contact with water. Recreational water illnesses caused by germs and bacteria can be spread by swallowing or simply coming into contact with contaminated water.  These illnesses include stomach, ear, and skin infections, but diarrhea is the most frequently reported illness.

Because the ecosystem of Little River is unique and fragile, other water quality parameters are also taken into account when testing for physical, chemical or biological properties. When we find algae in the water or have a high Nitrogen reading, this is often an indicator of agricultural runoff which can be detrimental to water quality and aquatic life. When we get a high reading for turbidity, this means the water is muddy from a disturbance upstream and the sedimentation can carry pollutants. Deposits from sedimentation pollution can choke out microscopic aquatic organisms that provide priceless environmental services such as filtration. When we have a pH reading and water is too high or too low, aquatic organisms living within it will die. The majority of aquatic creatures prefer a pH range of 6.5-9.0. This useful data helps us determine how to best manage and restore parts of the river corridor over time.

Weekly Water Testing begins May 20th!

Get the Skinny before you Dip! https://www.theswimguide.org/

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Angie Shugart

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