Announcing our Summer Water Quality Campaign!
All summer long, St. Marys Riverkeeper will be doing additional water sampling in coastal Camden and Nassau Counties for Fecal Indicator Bacteria (FIB), specifically E. coli and Enterococci species, to get a better understanding of the health of our waterways. Warmer waters not only mean more people recreating on the water, but it also results in exponential bacterial growth. This increases people’s chances of getting sick when they come into contact (swimming, recreating, or fishing) with a contaminated waterbody.
Our goals are to ensure our watershed community has a holistic understanding of the health of their waterways and provide necessary information for people to make appropriate decisions on how they choose to recreate on the water.
Why Enterococci and E. coli?
Fecal Coliform is naturally found in the intestines of warm-blooded animals and the presence of this bacteria may indicate contamination of a waterbody by human and/or animal fecal material. Human sources of bacteria include improperly functioning wastewater treatment plants, leaking septic systems, storm water runoff, and runoff from animal manure and manure storage areas.
Enterococci has the ability to survive in saltwater and therefore are the chosen indicator organism for coastal (saline) waterbodies whereas E. coli is only used in fresh water. Our team of dedicated and trained Citizen Scientists will continue their normal water sampling routine throughout the watershed until it is determined whether or not this new protocol is applicable for their sampling sites.
We need your help!
Your support and engagement are critical to our water quality program success!
- Be a Watchdog! Let us know if you have concerns of a possible contaminated waterbody. Things to consider when reporting a waterbody:
- Is the water salty? Sample sites of priority during this campaign are brackish and saltwater systems.
- Do you see a strange film on the surface of the water or does the water have a funny smell? Observing the water is a great indicator of a contamination.
- Are there a lot of older homes on septic along the water’s edge? Septic tanks should be pumped out every 3-5 years and replaced every 20-30 years.
- How accessible is the waterbody? Sampling sites should be easily accessible, safe to be at, and can be visited more than once.
- Should water be flowing or stagnant? The waterbody must have flowing water at the time of sampling. Bacteria can be buried in the sediment and if the soil is disturbed, buried bacteria can be resuspended giving an inaccurate reading.
- DONATE! Our Citizen Scientists need the most accurate and efficient equipment to continuously monitor our waterways. Funds raised through this campaign will provide not only lab work for bacterial testing, but will also provide meters to our coastal Citizen Scientists to test for chemical parameters.
- Learn More! Keep an eye on our upcoming events for future Citizen Science training sessions or Lunch and Learn webinars about water quality testing in our St. Marys River.
Thanks to a generous donor, every donation received to support our water quality program will be matched up to $2,500. Help us reach our campaign goal to raise $5,000 to effectively and accurately monitor the health of our St. Marys River watershed. Our work as an independent voice for the St. Marys River is made possible by the financial support from you and hundreds of other concerned citizens.
- $35 donation will provide one our water quality sampling teams a 5-in-1 water sampling meter to test for pH, temperature, salinity, conductivity, and total dissolved solids’
- $50 donation will provide funds to run one enterococci sample through a certified lab;
- $65 donation will provide one of our water quality sampling teams a digital Dissolved Oxygen detector meter;
- $100 donation will provide one of our water quality sampling teams with both the 5-in-1 sampling meter and the digital dissolved oxygen detector;
- $250 donation will provide funds to help generate a Water Quality Report Card based on summer sampling efforts.
Sampling sites are chosen based on salinity, St. Marys Riverkeeper’s monthly water testing results, public input, and/or recreational use. Chemical parameters were recorded for dissolved oxygen (DO), salinity, conductivity, total dissolved solids (TDS), temperature, and pH. Water samples are being analyzed by a lab for enterococci and through Georgia Adopt a Stream‘s bacterial monitoring protocol for E. coli.
Sampling takes place no less than 30 minutes after high tide to ensure we are collecting an accurate water sample from upstream. If the salinity of the water is less than 1 parts per thousand (ppt), we are using protocol from Georgia Adopt a Stream’s bacterial monitoring to test for E. coli. If the salinity of the water is greater than or equal to 1 ppt, we are collecting a sample and sending it to be analyzed for enterococci through a certified lab.
We have alerted state environmental agencies and county level health departments of our efforts to assist them with additional sampling support and data to protect public health.
*Additional coastal sample sites will be added throughout the summer in both Nassau and Camden Counties.
Once all data has been collected and analyzed, a final report will be made available to the public.