In response to the public concerns about exposure to reported increased bacteria levels in the Shenandoah River, the FOSR launched a project that began in 2017 to test the Escherichia coli bacteria (E. coli) levels in the Shenandoah River at public access and recreational areas. Initially, the project started with three sites selected on the Main Stem of the Shenandoah River in Clarke County, Virginia that were tested from May through August. The FOSR implemented the same once a week testing methodology used by the Virginia Department of Health for the public coastal beaches of Virginia. The goal of FOSR’s summer E. coli testing project is to provide frequent, real-time accredited E. coli concentration results for river recreation users to make their own informed decision about potential associated health risks when recreating in the areas of the river tested.
Thanks to generous funding received to continue the project, in 2018 the FOSR expanded its E. coli testing project to include a total of fifteen sites located on the North Fork, South Fork, Main Stem of the Shenandoah River and Opequon Creek. The project was launched the first week of May and continued through the last week of September.