Last summer Nancy Dolphin joined her Mower County neighbors in an unusual science experiment: They headed out every week and after every heavy rainstorm to measure E. coli bacteria in the nearby Cedar River and its tributaries.
They believed no one was doing enough to fight pollution in the streams that flow through their backyards, so they took matters into their own hands.
They found the infectious bacteria, often in dangerously high concentrations, almost everywhere they looked, including the creek that flows by Dolphin’s house. It came from hogs, cows and — in surprisingly high numbers — human waste.
Mentioned: a McKnight Foundation grant funded a water testing project where 4-H kids learned how to take water samples and grow bacteria in a lab dish.