State Water Resources Research Institute Program

Project ID: 2008WA248B
Title: Assessing Pathogen Fate and Transport through Riparian Buffers in an Agricultural Watershed
Project Type: Research
Start Date: 3/01/2008
End Date: 2/28/2009
Congressional District: WA 5th
Focus Categories: Non Point Pollution, Agriculture, Surface Water
Keywords: Riparian buffers, pathogens, fecal indicators, E. coli, Salmonella
Principal Investigators: Ullman, Jeffrey Layton ; Killinger, Karen ; Wu, Joan Q (Washington State University)
Federal Funds: $ 24,964
Non-Federal Matching Funds: $ 49,984
Abstract: Pathogens that enter surface waters through nonpoint sources represent a critical issue facing agricultural sustainability in Washington, as bacterial loads from diffuse sources inhibit beneficial uses and present a significant human health risk. Riparian buffers represent a Best Management Practice (BMP) that can exclude livestock from surface waters and limit off-site transport of nonpoint source pollutants. However, pathogen fate and transport processes in environmental systems remain largely uncertain.

This project partners an inter-disciplinary team of researchers with a local conservation district to examine the fate and transport of pathogens at various spatial scales. Laboratory studies will provide data on pathogen attachment and survivability in soils and vegetation inherent to riparian buffers. Field-scale and watershed-scale studies will produce a targeted evaluation of pathogen movement in riparian buffers which will help clarify uncertain processes at larger scales. This information, used in conjunction with existing watershed data (e.g., soil type, topography, land use) and published sediment transport parameters, will then be used to model pathogen movement in the environment.

Progress/Completion Report, PDF

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