Volunteers take water samples at Moores Creek

Published 6:26 pm Monday, March 11, 2019

VALLEY — On Saturday, about 20 people attended a short presentation from the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper and Moores Creek Project to learn how to sample the creek for high levels of E. Coli.

After the quick talk, the individuals separated into teams to take samples of the creek and return them to Hannah Bradford, watershed protection specialist with the organization.

“We want to get a snapshot in time for water quality in Moores Creek,” she said. “It will help us pinpoint sites that may need for attention.”

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Bradford said the data collected Saturday will also allow Riverkeeper to send out volunteers to take regular samples if needed.

She said Moores Creek covers 18 square miles in Valley, Lanett and Huguley, and it has been listed for sedimentation, pathogens and fecal coliform by the Environmental Protection Agency. The volunteers were mostly testing for E.coli Saturday afternoon. High levels could be from farms or dog parks, but also from sewer spills and issues with infrastructure, Bradford said.

“Anywhere you go there are problems with sewer infrastructure because it gets old faster than people can sometimes fix it,” she said. “We help cities and municipalities find these problems a little bit quicker, so we don’t have sewage going into our environment.”

Alex James, watershed coordinator with the Auburn University Extension water quality program, as well as the Moores Creek project, said the information collected Saturday will help them if their previous stability measures were successful.

The project was awarded a grant for $500,000 by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management to restore a section of the creek near Veterans Memorial Parkway. James said the banks were falling in, which threatened infrastructure, like buried sewer lines and overhead power lines.

The project has been awarded another grant for $300,000, she said. The next grant will be a stabilization project for the section of the creek outside of Valley City Hall and a section near the Chambers County Emergency Management Agency building in Lanett.

James said volunteers with the project need to know what the quality of the water is before, during and after construction to tell them if they are successful with stability measures.

She said Saturday’s testing will also help them to know if Moores Creek’s water quality is improving.

She said the site that ADEM sampled didn’t meet water quality standards and ended up on the 303d impaired waters for the state, meaning it wasn’t clean water.

“If we want to get it off that list, we have to prove that anything we implement within the watershed we need to the data to support those are affected,” James said.

She said all the sampling will also go to ADEM and the state will come out and do a second round of sampling.

Although E.coli was on the top of the list for sampling, Bradford said they were also sampling for the cloudiness and conductivity of the water.

She said those results will give them a makeup of the creek, which can help them when there is an issue and what do to.

“It’s very important to know what our environment looks like and for people know when they are purchasing a house near a creek for property values,” she said. “Also, just for health reasons because if you want to take a dip in the creek, you should be able to.”

Bradford said the testing was done this past weekend in LaGrange and the results should be released shortly.