Sierra Nevada helps fund bacteria monitoring of French Broad River

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

  • 1

Press release here:

When: Every Wednesday, starting Aug. 15 Where: French Broad River, Mud Creek, and Cane Creek area

Why: To monitor and clean up sources of bacteria impairment in our local waterways

Who: Anyone, no experience necessary. Training will be provided the day of the sampling. RSVP for time and meeting location to WNCA’s French Broad Riverkeeper Hartwell Carson at [email protected] or (828) 258-8737

Sierra Nevada Brewing Company has funded work to identify the sources of bacteria impairment in the French Broad River. The French Broad River is listed as an impaired stream for bacteria contamination by the state of North Carolina, from just after the City of Hendersonville to the Long Shoals Road Bridge.

Initial samples taken in and around the French Broad River by the airport confirm the state’s listing for high levels of bacteria in the river. This sampling will continue every Wednesday to track the sources of the impairment and begin work to eliminate sewage and bacteria pollution to the French Broad River. Interested volunteers should contact French Broad Riverkeeper Hartwell Carson at [email protected] or (828) 258-8737.

Bacteria pollution in the French Broad watershed is prevalent, but largely unmonitored and therefore unresolved. Bacteria impairment in area streams usually means sewage or animal waste is reaching the stream. This is a significant health concern as it can make humans very sick and seriously harm aquatic life.

Despite the importance of understanding bacteria pollution, knowledge regarding its distribution has barely begun to scratch the surface. For example, more than 15 percent of the impaired streams in the French Broad Watershed are damaged due to bacteria pollution; however the real problem comes from the 75 percent of streams that are unmonitored.

In one study, the North Carolina Waste Discharge Elimination Program reported that more than 10 percent of homes are illegally discharging bacteria into waterways.

As a result, the French Broad Riverkeeper devised and implemented a monitoring program on the Swannanoa River to determine whether bacteria impairment exists. The first phase focused on the Swannanoa River watershed, because it’s such a frequently used stream for recreation and was believed to be affected by bacterial pollution. More than 550 samples were taken in the watershed, with 42 percent of the samples sites exceeding North Carolina’s water quality standard, and therefore being classified as high risk. Several sources of this impairment were indentified and have been eliminated. In other cases, a long-term fix is being determined.

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

  • 1


  1. Josaphine Renquist August 14, 2012

    Maybe Carson should explore the 36″ sewer line that literally is on the I-26 edge of the French Broad bank (twin iron pipes, water & sewer) that was installed in the 80’s. Or the sanitary sewer system that comes out of the Broadpointe Indstrial point near the Asheville Airport property and goes through the French Broad to tie into the MSD system.

  2. FDR August 14, 2012

    Bet they find a lot of chemicals associated with Coal Ash a long that stretch of river between Long Shoals and Henderson County.

    If parts of the river are unsafe, shouldn’t there be signs stating that?


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.