On Thursday, October 7, at 7 p.m., Sierra Club will host a Zoom presentation by Hartwell Carson, French Broad Riverkeeper with MountainTrue. Protect the French Broad Now will explore threats to Asheville’s most significant waterway and efforts being made to protect it. “Water quality is getting worse,” says Carson, “and we have developed some solutions we think will move us towards the goals of the Clean Water Act: to have all water be fishable and swimmable.”
The French Broad River supports a diverse group of aquatic species, a thriving recreation scene, a robust economy and a world-class fishery. Despite this, the number of days that E. coli levels in the river exceed safe levels are becoming more frequent. Out of 99 E. coli samples taken in 2019 in Town Branch, also known as Nasty Branch, only 8 percent passed the Environmental Protection Agency’s safe limit.
Additionally, testing is showing increased levels of micro-plastics in the water. With heavier and more frequent rainfalls, pollution is flooding the river. “In recent years, the water quality in the river has declined precipitously in many locations,” says Carson. One example is the Pearson Bridge sampling location, which has gone from passing the test for a safe threshold of bacteria 81 percent of the time in 2016 to failing those tests 81 percent of the time in 2020. In addition to exploring this issue, Carson will offer solution-based actions that individuals can take to improve the river’s water quality.
Register for this event or learn more at WNCSierraClub.org.