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Sci Total Environ. 2013 Apr 1;449:426-33. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2013.01.087. Epub 2013 Feb 26.

Impact of mixed land-use practices on the microbial water quality in a subtropical coastal watershed.

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Indian River Research and Education Center, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Fort Pierce, FL 34945, USA.


Surface runoff water is an important non-point source of fecal pollution to downstream water; however, there is a lack of systematic studies on the microbial quality of surface runoff water from watersheds with mixed land uses. In this study water samples from 12 surface runoff holding water bodies (SRW), which collected runoff from various patterns of land use within the St. Lucie watershed along the southeastern coastline of Florida, were collected monthly for 22 months. The concentration of fecal indicator bacteria (FIB) and frequency of detection of Salmonella and host specific markers (HF183, CF128, CF193, and HS-esp) were determined, and their associations with land use, rainfall, and water physico-chemical parameters were investigated. Higher FIB concentrations were observed from urban land and cattle ranch sites. Within the same primary land use pattern, different sub-patterns did not have the same level of FIB: golf communities contributed less to fecal pollution than residential areas, and plant nursery sites contained relative higher FIB concentrations than other agricultural sites. Salmonella, CF128, and CF193 markers were more frequently detected from the cattle ranch sites. In contrast the frequency of detecting human specific markers (HF183 and HS-esp) was much higher in residential sites. Rainfall positively affected the concentration of FIB and occurrence of Salmonella, possibly by providing more inputs or mobilizing the sources from sediments. Water temperature, dissolved organic carbon (DOC), and nutrient levels were positively correlated with FIB concentrations and occurrence in SRW, possibly by promoting their growth and survival. This study indicated the need for site specific mitigation strategies to improve SRW and downstream water quality.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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