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J Environ Qual. 2006 Apr 26;35(3):889-97. Print 2006 May-Jun.

Identifying sources of fecal contamination inexpensively with targeted sampling and bacterial source tracking.

Author information

1
Marine Extension Service, 715 Bay St., University of Georgia, Brunswick, GA 31520-4601, USA.

Abstract

Most bacterial source tracking (BST) methods are too expensive for most communities to afford. We developed targeted sampling as a prelude to BST to reduce these costs. We combined targeted sampling with three inexpensive BST methods, Enterococcus speciation, detection of the esp gene, and fluorometry, to confirm the sources of fecal contamination to beaches on Georgia's Jekyll and Sea Islands during calm and stormy weather conditions. For Jekyll Island, the most likely source of contamination was bird feces because the percentage of Ent. faecalis was high (30%) and the esp gene was not detected. For the Sea Island beach during calm conditions, the most likely sources of fecal contamination were leaking sewer lines and wildlife feces. The leaking sewer lines were confirmed with fluorometry and detection of the esp gene. For the Sea Island beach during stormflow conditions, the most likely sources of fecal contamination were wildlife feces and runoff discharging from two county-maintained pipes. For the pipes, the most likely source of contamination was bird feces because the percentage of Ent. faecalis was high (30%) and the esp gene was not detected. Sediments were also a reservoir of fecal enterococci for both Jekyll and Sea Islands. Combining targeted sampling with two or more BST methods identified sources of fecal contamination quickly, easily, and inexpensively. This combination was the first time targeted sampling was conducted during stormy conditions, and the first time targeted sampling was combined with enterococcal speciation, detection of the esp gene, and fluorometry.

PMID:
16641326
DOI:
10.2134/jeq2005.0328
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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