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File photo by Bob Hammerstrom

David Brooks takes a water sample from the Souhegan River in Amherst Tuesday, June 8, 2010.
Saturday, July 16, 2011

July 5, 2011: Souhegan in Milford tests high in bacteria

Intermittent rains around July 4 apparently washed material into the Souhegan River, judging from sharply higher bacteria counts discovered during the most recent volunteer testing.

The tests, done by Souhegan Watershed Association volunteers every other week during the summer, found that counts of E. coli bacteria ranged from poor to unswimmable between Wilton and Merrimack.

By contrast, the upper reaches of the Souhegan River tested clean, as did the entire Merrimack River.

The Souhegan River is much faster in the Monadnock region but slows down considerable as it bends eastward in the center of Wilton. The slower, lower section from Wilton to the intersection with the Merrimack River commonly have more bacteria than the upper reaches of the Souhegan. The most recent tests, on Tuesday, July 5, found very high E. coli levels at the Swing Bridge in Milford and the Amherst Country Club, with high levels between Pine Valley Mill and downtown Milford.

The summertime testing have been run for 15 years. Samples are collected every other Tuesday in the summer and taken to wastewater treatment plants, where they are tested for bacteria and dissolved oxygen, which is a general level of river health.

Results can be seen on an online map at the Telegraph’s online River Test Results page, at