Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2014HI428B

Evaluation of Portable Multi-use Automated Concentration System (PMACS) for the analysis of indicator bacteria and microbial source tracking markers in Hawaii

Institute: Hawaii
Year Established: 2014 Start Date: 2014-03-01 End Date: 2016-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $15,226 Total Non-Federal Funds: $31,980

Principal Investigators: Marek Kirs, Roger Fujioka, Philip Moravcik

Abstract: The greatest limitations of current water sampling strategies used by state and federal agencies in their water quality monitoring programs are the small volumes of water, which are sampled and assayed for only fecal indicator bacteria. These low volumes of water samples cannot address the reality of low concentration and patchy distribution of microorganisms (source specific markers, human pathogens), which provide direct relevance to human health risks. Furthermore, these proxy organisms (enterococci and E. coli) can originate from different sources (human, animal, environmental sources), and therefore linking elevated indicator bacteria concentrations to a given source is needed. Several source specific bacteria and viruses have been identified over the last decade for this purpose. Unfortunately levels of truly source specific microorganisms in sewage are relatively low, hence their detection and quantification is hampered using traditional sampling methods under current water quality monitoring programs. These are major issues as only monitoring for micro-organisms relevant to human health risk provides adequate protection to public health. Hence better methods for the detection and quantification of low-level micro-organisms (source specific organism, human pathogens) and changes in water testing practices at state and federal levels are urgently needed. A novel Portable Multi-use Automated Concentration System (PMACS), developed and validated at Dr. Daniel Lim’s laboratory (University of South Florida). The system allows analyses of 100-1000 fold larger sample volumes (10-100 L) compared to sample volumes analyzed by traditional filtration techniques (100 ml). As a result, the PMACS offers three major advantages: 1) detection of low-level microbial targets such as source specific markers and human pathogens 2) reduces sample variability in monitoring programs as it enables analyses of representative sample volumes, and 3) allows quantification of selected microorganisms by viability assay and by molecular assays. This project will evaluate usability of PMACS for concentrating microbial indicator bacteria, and source specific microorganisms (bacteria, human viruses) from water samples collected in Hawaii. Research Objectives: 1) conduct laboratory experiments to identify recovery of enterococci, E.coli, C. perfringens, human Bacteroides (HF183), selected human viruses such as human polyomaviruses and others using PMACS by spiking various concentrations of sewage into large volumes (10 L) of drinking water, freshwater and marine water samples and compare these results to measurements obtained by conventional filtration methods (100 ml grab sample); 2) compare PMACS (10 -100 L samples) and standard filtration techniques (100 ml grab samples) based on the field samples collected form the drinking water (well, reservoir, distribution water), rainwater catchment system water, Manoa Stream water and water from the beaches of Oahu Island.