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Environ Sci Technol. 2003 Feb 15;37(4):673-80.

Tiered approach for identification of a human fecal pollution source at a recreational beach: case study at Avalon Bay, Catalina Island, California.

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Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305-4020, USA.


Recreational marine beaches in California are posted as unfit for swimming when the concentration of fecal indicator bacteria (FIB) exceeds any of seven concentration standards. Finding and mitigating sources of shoreline FIB is complicated by the many potential human and nonhuman sources of these organisms and the complex fate and transport processes that control their concentrations. In this study, a three-tiered approach is used to identify human and nonhuman sources of FIB in Avalon Bay, a popular resort community on Catalina Island in southern California. The first and second tiers utilize standard FIB tests to spatially isolate the FIB signal, to characterize the variability of FIB over a range of temporal scales, and to measure FIB concentrations in potential sources of these organisms. In the third tier, water samples from FIB "hot spots" and sources are tested for human-specific bacteria Bacteroides/Prevotella and enterovirus to determine whether the FIB are from human sewage or from nonhuman sources such as bird feces. FIB in Avalon Bay appear to be from multiple, primarily land-based, sources including bird droppings, contaminated subsurface water, leaking drains, and runoff from street wash-down actvities. Multiple shoreline samples and two subsurface water samples tested positive for human-specific bacteria and enterovirus, suggesting that at least a portion of the FIB contamination is from human sewage.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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