News From The River

See the Latest Water Quality Monitoring Data from the FoRR Monitoring Team!

FoRR took to the river on January 11 and January 29 to monitor four sites in the Reedy River watershed:

Site #1: Reedy River just downstream of Swamp Rabbit Café

Site #2: A small tributary of the Reedy River in Falls Park 

Site #3: Reedy River on Mauldin Road upstream of ReWa's headquarters

Site #4: Reedy River at Unity Park Auro Bridge (new site!)

We’re excited to start reporting data collected from a fourth site which is located in Unity Park near the Auro Bridge. This site is monitored by one of FoRR’s newly-elected Board Members, Guy Hochstetler. See past data from the Unity Park site here.

Sites 1 through 3 were monitored on January 29. Site 4 was monitored on January 11.

Comparison of water levels and turbidity in December (left) and January (right) at the Swamp Rabbit Cafe (top) and Mauldin Rd. (bottom) sites.

The pH results for January were consistent with our findings in December, with the average pH decreasing only slightly.

January’s average air and water temperatures increased by 2 degrees each. The air temperatures at the Mauldin Road (11.5°C) and Unity Park (12.5°C) sites both decreased slightly from last month’s sampling events (down 2.5° and 4°C, respectively). The air temperatures at Falls Park (13.5°C) and Swamp Rabit Café (14.5°C), however, both increased significantly, marking a change in weather patterns as daytime temperatures increased this month. The water temperature at Unity Park (7.5°C) deceased slightly by only 0.5°C, but was sampled in mid-January as opposed to late-January like the other three sites. The Mauldin Road, Falls Park, and Swamp Rabbit Café site’s water temperatures all increased between 2 and 4 degrees, with the water temperature at these three sites ranging from 9.5° to 10°C. The varying water and air temperature patterns during this monitoring event did not seem to directly correlate with any of the other parameters sampled.

The E. coli bacteria results from January’s sampling events varied slightly from December’s E. coli counts, with the levels decreasing at our Swamp Rabbit Café site and Falls Park site by 100 CFU/100mL and 166 CFU/100mL, respectively. The E. coli colony forming unit counts increased minimally at the Mauldin Rd. site, up only 67 CFU/100mL from December. The average E. coli level across sites 1-3 decreased by 64 CFU/100mL, with the results all falling within a range of 67 to 166 CFU/100mL. These results were somewhat surprising due to the increased turbidity and elevated water levels at all sites, but can likely be attributed to the still-cool water temperatures and cold overnight lows since E. coli bacteria levels have a direct correlation with water temperatures: as water temperatures increase, E. coli viability and levels typically also increase. Therefore, this month’s low E. coli CFU populations are typical for this time of year due to lower water temperatures. 

January’s dissolved oxygen (DO) results also varied only slightly compared to December’s results, and with no discernable correlations to other sampled parameters. DO levels decreased by 0.7 and 1.5 mg/L at Swamp Rabbit Café and Unity Park, respectively, from December’s sampling results. The DO at Falls Park and Mauldin Road both increased, by 1.4 and 0.4 mg/L, respectively. The average DO across all four sites was 9.8 mg/L, which is quite high DO and what we expect to see this time of year due to DO’s relationship to water temperature. When water temperatures are colder, water has a higher capacity to hold oxygen, resulting in higher DO levels. Lower metabolic rates for aquatic animals also contributes to less oxygen utilization during colder months. DO levels this month were typical for this time of year and much higher than the SC State Standard average of 5 mg/L.

January’s turbidity levels rose at all four sites compared to December’s results. Results ranged from 11 to 19 NTUs, with an average of 15.25 NTUs. In December, for comparison, the turbidity level at all sites was just 5 NTUs. The significant increase in turbidity (the cloudiness of water) was expected due to the high volume of rain in January. There was significant rainfall two days before both the January 11 (Site 4) and January 29 (Sites 1-3) sample dates.

January’s results and the SC state standards are included for comparison below. All results were within SC state standards.

  • pH is a way of measuring the H+ ions in a water sample, or if the sample is acidic or basic. pH is influenced by the concentration of acids in rain, and the types of soils and bedrock present in the watershed. Ideally, rivers will have a neutral pH, or a value of 7.
  • The available dissolved oxygen (DO) in a water sample is important for fish health and life within a body of water. DO can increase in lower temperatures, turbulence in the water, photosynthesis in the stream, and diffusion from the atmosphere. DO can decrease in higher temperatures, in slow-moving and deep water, and in the presence of decaying organic matter.
  • E. coli Bacteria counts are found by incubating a water sample that was placed on a medium, then counting the number of coliform forming units. These values are higher in areas where animals are present so always remember to pick up after your pets and don't feed the geese in the park!
  • Turbidity, the cloudiness of water, is quantified with the unit of measurement “NTU,” which stands for “Nephelometric Turbidity Units”. Low NTU readings indicate clearer water and high readings indicate very turbid, or cloudy, water. NTU readings typically range from 1 to 4,000, with 1 being clear water and 4,000 having very little transparency and high turbidity (think of the cloudiness of milk).

Sign up to join the FoRR monitoring team HERE!

Find an SC Adopt-a-Stream event near you to become certified HERE!

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