Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2011IN316B

Towards a better understanding of E. coli ecology in open streams

Institute: Indiana
Year Established: 2011 Start Date: 2011-03-01 End Date: 2012-02-29
Total Federal Funds: $10,664 Total Non-Federal Funds: $21,328

Principal Investigators: Ronald Turco

Abstract: Inputs of fecal pollution is a continually issues for the Wabash River and many river systems in the United States. Our current work has shown the numbers of indicator bacteria Escherichia coli (E. coli) typically exceed the state limits for full body contact in both the river and the watersheds systems that feed the river. This proposed investigation stems directly from our ongoing efforts and is relate to questions concerning the distribution of the bacteria in the open water system and what is controlling their population structure and numbers. Questions: 1) How is the bacterial population structure and density altered as stream water moves from the headwaters of a small stream to the interface with the Wabash River and 2) Is the bacterial population structure altered as the water passes by municipal input source such the Lafayette/West Lafayette area. It can be assumed that the fecal bacteria originate from multiple sources and are able to survive in the water systems, what is unclear is the role of proximity of possible bacterial source to controlling the population structure at any given second location. For example, if we sample at the exit point of tributary at the Wabash River, are the numbers and type of bacteria an additive result of all inputs on the stream or do they reflect only the nearest inputs? Modern bacterial fingerprinting technologies can improve bacterial source tracking and problem area identification.