Wheeler Nature Park

Wheeler Nature Park is a 140 acre park located off Dorset Street in South Burlington.  The area includes foot trails, grasslands, forest, wetlands, and transitional brush land.  Many residents use the park for dog walking, hiking, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and bird watching.   A map of the park can be found here.

The entirety of the park drains to tributary 7 of Potash Brook.  The City of South Burlington completed sampling of this tributary in 2009 and 2011 as part of their water quality monitoring for Potash Brook.  A total of four samples were taken each year; two at base flow and two at high flow.

 Wheeler Historic Sampling Points

The data suggests low to moderate levels of E. coli at base flow and high levels during storm events. 

Station

Date Sampled

Flow

E. coli (MPN/100ml)

Rainfall(inches)

T7 1.0 11/30/11 High 190 .25
T7 1.0 10/12/11 Base 35 ---
T7 1.0 9/30/11 High 1100 1.25
T7 1.0 9/27/11 Base 160 ---
T7 1.0 11/20/09 High 2400 .71
T7 1.0 10/19/09 Base 9 ---
T7 1.0 9/29/09 High > 2400 1.9
T7 1.0 8/27/09 Base 240 ---

 The 2012 testing is currently ongoing and takes water samples from different locations than the previous years. 

Wheeler 2012 Sampling

The data will be displayed here as it is gathered.

Station Date Sampled

E. coli MPN/100mL

B1 6/19/12 >2400
B2 6/19/12 >2400
B1 7/10/12  820
B2 7/10/12  308
B1 8/8/12  Too dry for sampling
B2 8/8/12  220
B1 9/12/12  88
B2 9/12/12  170
B1 9/19/12  520
B2 9/19/12  610

For reference, the Vermont safe standard for E.coli in recreational waters is 77 colonies per 100ml.  The EPA standard is 235 colonies per 100 ml.

High E. coli levels in streams are typically a result of excess human or animal waste in the waterway.  This can happen when septic systems fail, sewer systems overflow, or animal waste is washed off of the surrounding landscape.  In the case of Wheeler Park, we surmise that the latter is the primary culprit, more specifically dog waste.  In light of this, the City has posted signs encouraging park users to "Scoop the Poop."  In addition, they are providing doogie bags at each entrance.

To help track changes in the E. coli level over time, we are looking for one or more volunteers to assist with water quality monitoring at two locations within Wheeler Park.  Responsibilities include taking samples 4 times per year (ideally twice at base flow and twice after a storm event), delivering samples to Endyne or the South Burlington Department of Public Works, and tracking data.  Please contact us for more information.