The Rogue River Watershed Partners sponsored one of their “Tuesday Talks” at the Cedar Spring Brewery this year on March 27. Molly Rippke, an Aquatic Biologist Specialist with the Department of Environmental Quality, gave a memorable talk and power point presentation about E.coli. She focussed on answering these four questions: What is E-coli? How does it get into rivers? Why should we care? What can we do about it?
This summer, Molly Rippke, on behalf of the DEQ, is determining what the E-coli levels are in the Rogue River.
Once a week, for five consecutive weeks, Molly Rippke, with the help of an intern, is testing the Rogue at the same seven locations, starting at 22 Mile Road and ending at Twelve Mile Road. They deliver the samples collected at each site to a laboratory in Lansing that same day.
In addition, the team measures the dissolved oxygen content at these sites, a measure of special interest to those who fish the Rogue.
The DEQ does similar monitoring on the rivers in Michigan as a matter of routine every five years but this is the first time E.coli has been measured on this scale in the Rogue River. Testing is done in order to evaluate whether the bacterial level in the river is safe for partial or full-body contact. Because human health is the priority, the DEQ responds to reports from the public that question the safely of a river’s E-coli levels, regardless of the five year schedule.
E.coli (short for Escherichia coli) comes from the feces of warm blooded animals, and is a common problem in rivers. E-coli enters rivers through pasture runoff, illicit sanitary connections, failing septic systems, urban run-off, and manure land-applications in agricultural areas.
If you’d like to learn more about E-coli, go to this website: www.mi.gov/waterquality.gov, and click on surface waters.
The testing phase is not finished yet, so the results are not available.
However, the RRWP plans to post the resulting data when it become available, at their website: rogueriverwp.org.