State Water Resources Research Institute Program


Project ID: 2009NC123B
Title: Using PCR-based Methods to Assess Microbial Contamination from Swine CAFOs in Surface and Groundwaters
Project Type: Research
Start Date: 3/01/2009
End Date: 2/28/2010
Congressional District: 7
Focus Categories: Groundwater, Surface Water, Water Quality
Keywords: Swine manure, CAFO, Microbial source tracking, Quantitative PCR, Bacteroides
Principal Investigator: Song, Bongkeun; Cahoon, Lawrence B.; Mallin, Michael A.
Federal Funds: $ 25,779
Non-Federal Matching Funds: $ 46,221
Abstract: Frequent and widespread contamination by waterborne pathogens in coastal and inland water resources is one of the major pollution issues in North Carolina. Both human and animal fecal pollution contribute to waterborne diseases. Pollution from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) during and after large storms has been well documented in North Carolina. Chronic runoff and subsurface movement from spray-fields also occur and contribute to water quality degradation in rivers, estuaries, and groundwater supplies. However, amidst multiple potential sources of pollution, no definitive investigation has been conducted to identify swine manure contamination as a source of chronic microbial pollution in watersheds. Thus, we propose to examine the levels of swine manure contamination in waterways of hog producing areas by adapting newly developed molecular methods of microbial source tracking.

Among the various methods, the detection and quantification techniques for the Bacteroides-Prevotella group will be used in this proposed research as they are highly abundant in the feces of warm-blooded animals and have host speciesor group-specific distributions. Terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP) analysis of the Bacteroides-Prevotella 16s RNA genes will be used to detect the source of microbial contamination in surface water and groundwater based on the presence of indicator terminal restriction fragments (T-RFs). Quantitative PCR developed to enumerate pig-specific Bacteroides-Prevotella 16S rRNA genes will be applied to estimate the levels of swine manure contamination in the Cape Fear River watersheds and groundwater systems. Incombination with chemical and biological water quality monitoring, we expect to find the following results and benefits: 1) defining the levels of swine manure contamination in surface and groundwater in areas near or downstream of swine CAFOs; 2)assessing potential human health risk by quantifying microbial contamination; 3) estimating spatial and temporal scales of contamination related to CAFO operations; 4) identifying improper management of swine waste operation systems in hog farms; 5) evaluating effectiveness of current swine waste Best Management Practices (BMPs); 6) providing science-based advice for waste management and remediation to enhance water quality of NC watersheds. Therefore, this project will provide the first assessment of microbial water quality impacts specifically traceable to swine waste operations in North Carolina watersheds.

Progress/Completion Report, 2009, PDF
Progress/Completion Report, 2010, PDF

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