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Water Resources--Office of Water Quality

...National Field Manual
Chapter A7. Biological Indicators


ABSTRACT

The National Field Manual for the Collection of Water-Quality Data (National Field Manual) provides guidelines and standard procedures for U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) personnel who collect data used to assess the quality of the Nation's surface-water and ground-water resources. This release of Chapter A7 presents procedures and guidelines for the collection, identification, and enumeration of fecal indicator bacteria in water.

Each chapter of the National Field Manual is published separately and revised periodically. Newly published and revised chapters will be announced on the USGS Home Page on the World Wide Web under "New Publications of the U.S. Geological Survey." The URL for this page is http://pubs.usgs.gov/publications/.

INTRODUCTION

As part of its mission, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) collects data needed to determine the quality of our Nation's water resources. A high degree of reliability and standardization of these data are paramount to fulfilling this mission. Documentation of nationally accepted methods used by USGS personnel serves to maintain consistency and technical quality in data-collection activities. The USGS publishes Techniques of Water-Resources Investigations (TWRI) reports that document scientific methods used by USGS personnel. TWRI publications are listed at the end of this report.

TWRIs are grouped under major subject headings called books. The Book 9 series, Handbooks for Water-Resources Investigations, is designed for field use and was developed to summarize, from other TWRIs and other references, techniques for planning and conducting specialized work in water-resources investigations. The National Field Manual for the Collection of Water-Quality Data (National Field Manual) is Section A of Book 9. The National Field Manual is comprised of individually published chapters. Chapter numbers are preceded by an "A" to indicate that the report is part of the National Field Manual.

Chapter A7 on biological indicators includes procedures and guidelines for the collection, identification, and enumeration of fecal indicator bacteria in water. Sections and other chapters of the National Field Manual are referred to in this report by the acronym "NFM" and the chapter and (or) section number. For example, general information on field measurements of ground water is covered in section 6.0.2 of Chapter A6 "Field Measurements" and is cited here as NFM 6.0.2.

Purpose and Scope

The National Field Manual provides guidelines and standard procedures to be used by USGS personnel for field activities related to water-quality data collection and analysis. This manual is targeted specifically toward data collectors in order to (1) establish and communicate scientifically sound methods and procedures, (2) encourage consistent use of field methods for the purpose of producing nationally comparable data, and (3) provide methods that minimize biasing the data and, when properly applied, that result in data that are reproducible within defined limits of variability.

Data collectors must have formal training and field apprenticeship in order to correctly implement the procedures described in this report. The National Field Manual is meant to complement such training. The information provided in Section 7.1 (Fecal Indicator Bacteria) is to be used in conjunction with Methods for Collection and Analysis of Aquatic Biological and Microbiological Samples edited by L.J. Britton and P.E. Greeson (TWRI, Book 5, Chapter A4, 1989).

It is impractical to provide guidance that would encompass the entire spectrum of data-collection objectives, site characteristics, environmental conditions, and technological advances related to water-quality studies. The fundamental responsibility of data collectors is to select methods that are compatible with the scientific objective for the field work and to use procedures that are consistent with USGS standard procedures to the extent possible. Under some circumstances, data collectors may have to modify standard procedures. Whenever a standard procedure is modified or an alternative procedure is used, a description of the procedure used and supporting quality-assurance information are to be reported with the data.

Field Manual Review and Revision

Chapters of the National Field Manual will be reviewed, revised, and reissued periodically to correct errors, incorporate technical advances, and address additional topics. Please send comments or corrections to: NFM-QW, USGS, 412 National Center, Reston, VA 20192 (or send electronic mail to: nfm-owq@usgs.gov. Newly published and revised chapters will be announced on the USGS Home Page on the World Wide Web under "New Publications of the U.S. Geological Survey." The URL for this page is http://pubs.usgs.gov/publications/

Acknowledgments

The information included in the National Field Manual is based on existing manuals, a variety of reference documents, and a broad spectrum of colleague expertise. In addition to the references provided, important source materials included unpublished USGS training and field manuals and technical memorandums. The authors wish to acknowledge those individuals in the USGS who developed the field and training manuals that provided the foundation for this National Field Manual: L.R. Kister; W.B. Garrett; M.A. Sylvester; T.K. Edwards; C.E. Lamb; R.T. Iwatsubo; J. Rawson; F.C. Wells; W.J. Gibbons; M.E. Dorsey; and J.R. Knapton.

The editors and authors are indebted to I.M. Collies, who provided editorial expertise and guided this document through many revisions; to C.M. Eberle and B.B. Palcsak for a thorough editorial review of the first draft; and to E.A. Ciganovich and G.J. Allord for their expertise, talent, and innovation in book design and publication.

Technical reviewers E.M. Godsy and J.J. Rote provided valuable contributions that improved the quality of information for the section on Fecal Indicator Bacteria.


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