Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2015MI234B

Microbial Water Pollution Source Characterization and Quantification at Sloan Creek

Institute: Michigan
Year Established: 2015 Start Date: 2015-03-01 End Date: 2016-02-29
Total Federal Funds: $10,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $20,097

Principal Investigators: Irene Xagoraraki, Ruth Kline-Robach

Abstract: Problem: A significant portion of the Red Cedar River Watershed, located in Ingham and Livingston Counties, Michigan, is impaired due to elevated bacteria levels. The Sloan Creek is a tributary of the Red Cedar River. Its subwatershed (HUC 040500040502) contains 19 square miles of land and about 26 miles of stream channel. Based on data in the 2014 draft Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) Integrated Report, 13 miles of stream channel in the subwatershed are impaired due to elevated E. coli levels, and were added to the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for portions of the Red Cedar River Watershed. The MDEQ ranked this subwatershed as a top priority subgroup in the TMDL area based on a stressor analysis. A draft watershed management plan has been developed for the Red Cedar River Watershed with input from multiple stakeholders. The plan identified the Sloan Creek subwatershed as a high priority for additional water quality analyses and implementation efforts. Suspected sources of bacteria in the subwatershed include human, agricultural and wildlife inputs. Additional sampling in this subwatershed will assist the watershed planning team in better characterizing pollutant sources and causes, and ultimately will help to target future implementation efforts. Methods: The proposed work will include quantitative qPCR and Illumina next generation sequencing, and, will result in quantification of human and bovine pollution source and identification of multiple microbial pollution sources, including human, multiple farm animal, and wildlife. E-coli will be measured for comparison purposes. Objectives: The goal of this project is to better characterize the microbial pollution sources in Sloan Creek. Our specific objectives are to: 1. Quantify the contribution of the major expected pollution sources (septic systems, bovine waste) using host-specific quantitative qPCR assays. 2. Characterize the effect of spring first-flush and summer dry periods on the creek pollution load using daily sampling for E.coli and qPCR, over two 10-day periods 3. Identify the presence of other potential microbial pollution sources (farm animal, wildlife) using molecular microbial community analysis (Illumina HiSeq) in two samples over the two sampling periods.