Water Quality and Bacteriological Testing Intern Position Description

MountainTrue and the French Broad Riverkeeper are currently seeking an intern to help with monitoring for E.coli in our local waterways. According to our most recent State of the River Report, bacteria is one of the biggest pollutants within the French Broad River basin. We have two monitoring programs aimed at tracking its sources.  Our intent with these programs is twofold— 1). to alert the public of high E. coli levels to ensure safe water for safe recreation, and 2) pinpointing sewer/septic leaks and agricultural runoff problems in order to get them fixed.

The first program, Swim Guide, is a recreational water quality monitoring and education program where volunteers collect and analyze weekly water samples from popular swimming holes and access points.  The data is then published online and distributed to the public so that they can make safe swimming decisions. Samples are taken weekly from May-September.

Our Poop Patrol Program also takes samples weekly, throughout the year.  We use the data from this program to pinpoint pollution sources, and work to get them fixed.  We zero-in on known problem-watersheds with intensive weekly testing and follow up for several months, addressing pollution sources as we find them.  

Ideally, this intern would help facilitate both programs, 2-3 days per week.  The experience is a particularly excellent opportunity for a public health, chemistry, biology, geography, or environmental science student who wants to demonstrate skills in leadership and project management with measurable outcomes. The ratio of inside to outside time is about 50:50.

TIME FRAME: 2-3 days per week May through September

RESPONSIBILITIES: The position involves coordinating sampling volunteers, performing lab and field work, managing data, conducting research, and distributing results to the public. The ideal candidate will possess charisma and leadership skills, and an above-average attention to detail. No prior knowledge or experience in water quality monitoring is necessary; training will be provided.  


  • Strong attention to detail and organization 
  • Ability to adhere to strict, but simple, Quality Control measures 
  • Ability to lift and carry cooler full of ice, bend over to collect sample up to 30 times per day, and maintain a steady hand in the lab 
  • Familiarity with Excel and ability to keep accurate records 
  • Ability to teach others 
  • Willingness to drive your own car up to collect samples (mileage is reimbursed at a rate of approximately $0.43/mile) 
  • Commitment to the goal of improving water quality through citizen science
  • Experience with communication around environmental issues preferred

TO APPLY: Submit a resume and cover letter to Anna Alsobrook at anna@mountaintrue.org