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Sources and Variability of Fecal Coliform in an Agricultural Watershed

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan www.asabe.org

Citation:  Paper number  022263,  2002 ASAE Annual Meeting . (doi: 10.13031/2013.9529) @2002
Authors:   Nathan Rice, Jane Frankenberger, Jonathan Harbor, Ronald Turco, Trisha Swanke, Sylvie Brouder
Keywords:   Fecal coliform, watershed, streamflow, variability

Fecal coliform bacteria are routinely monitored to assess surface water quality for recreational purposes. Detailed monitoring of Honey Creek and Hoagland Ditch, two tributaries of Lake Shafer, a popular recreational area in North Central Indiana, was undertaken to assess fecal coliform source and variability. The combined watersheds are representative of intense agricultural areas and were sampled weekly at twenty one locations for fecal coliform contamination for two years between May 2000 and June 2002 to identify sources and determine the magnitudes of fecal waste contamination. Variability was addressed both at watershed scales over time and space, and for small-scale variations within a stream. Geometric mean site concentrations ranged from 189 cfu/100ml to 1635 cfu/100ml across the watersheds. Duplicate samples for quality control were examined for localized in-stream variability and were not significantly different from original samples, but there was temporal variability related to streamflow conditions. Site to site, as well as localized stream variability of fecal coliform concentration is significant in order to accurately sample surface water and assess causative action for improving water quality.

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