The DEQ’s most recent tally of new impaired waterways shows a 19-mile section of the French Broad from N.C. 146 to Craggy Dam was added during the summer.

The list, updated every two years, also includes Bacoate Branch and Town or “Nasty” Branch, which originate near downtown Asheville and enter the French Broad River in the River Arts District, according to a news release from River Link and MountainTrue.

In this case, the river is considered impaired because of the presence of certain bacteria beyond standard levels.

It is common in all water bodies for E. coli to increase as turbidity increases, so elevated turbidity and E. coli at Pearson Bridge is an indication that other turbid sections of the French Broad River would be expected to contain elevated E. coli as well,” the website states in is FAQ section.

According to the tracker, E. coli values greater than 126 most probable number (MPN) “represent an increased exposure risk for primary recreation,” including full-immersion activities like swimming and snorkeling. As of Sept. 21, the tracker was at 90 MPN.


Cartoon originally published in the Asheville, NC alt weekly paper, “The Mountain Xpress”.

© 2022 – Brent Brown, Brent Brown Graphix