Swimming advisory issued due to elevated e-coli levels in area streams and rivers

Chart showing HVA Summer 2022 testing results


The Alford Health Agent is issuing an advisory after elevated E-Coli bacteria levels were found in area brooks and streams when they were tested after recent significant rain events.  Alford residents are advised to cease swimming, fishing and other activities that put their hands or torso in contact with the water in these areas until the E-Coli levels have subsided. 

The elevated bacteria levels were detected as part of testing program through the Housatonic Valley Association’s (HVA)  Housatonic Watershed project that routinely tests the Williams, Green Housatonic and Konkapot rivers and their tributaries starting in early June.  The testing done on September 6th, 2022 showed extremely elevated levels of E-Coli across the entire sampling area.  The Alford Board of Health/Selectboard also has weekly testing done on the Green River off Route 71, however, the sampling done September 7th did not show the elevated e-coli levels seen in other sampling locations.

This advisory will remain in effect until E-Coli levels go down to a point where they meet the Massachusetts state water quality standards for E-Coli, likely beyond the swimming season for 2022.

Water testing locations in the Town of Alford include:

  • Green River, off Route 71 near Dellea Rd:  Tested weekly by BOH/SB through 9/14/22
  • Alford Brook, downstream of Wilson Rd Bridge:  Tested biweekly by HVA through labor day.  Note that this testing location is in an area with an active beaver lodge which leads to consistently high results.
  • Alford Brook, upstream of East Road Bridge:  Tested biweekly by HVA through labor day. 

Stormwater runoff can carry animal droppings on the ground into local streams, causing elevated E. coli concentrations. Additionally, rain can cause soil erosion and higher turbidity (poor water clarity). Bacteria can be killed by sunlight, so having low water clarity reduces the chances that bacteria in the water will be exposed to sunlight and die.