PS 10-117 - Identification and removal of microbial contaminants in Upper Sugar Creek, Ohio watershed

Monday, August 8, 2011
Exhibit Hall 3, Austin Convention Center
Xiaoping Wei, Environmental Sciences Graduate Program, The Ohio State University, Wooster, OH

Transport of human and animal wastes into natural waters can result in contamination with pathogenic microorganisms, which has become an increasingly serious health concern.  Understanding the source and fate of fecal bacteria in natural waterways is of utmost importance in order to predict health risk and develop management strategies that reduce their presence. This study describes a model watershed for study of pathogen origin, fate, and transport.

The project has been conducted through three phases. First, we use qPCR (quantitative PCR) techniques to identify the magnitude of indicator bacteria concentrations (E. Coli and Bacteroiodales) at key points in the watershed, and potential host sources. Second, we use Primary Headwater Habitat Evaluation Index (HHEI) to assess the general health condition of the watershed. Third we use questionnaire to survey residents living in the watershed to benchmark attitudes towards the water pathogen health issues, and potential ability to adopt conservation practices.


Our study results a) suggest the possibility of using qPCR to identify and quantify the Bacteroidales as a new microbial contamination indicator to evaluate recreational water quality; b) demonstrate the advantages (such as easy, quick, and clear) of Primary Headwater Evaluation Index (HHEI), and c) differentiate farmers and non farmers' perspectives and values on their neighborhood streams, and potential adopters of conservation measures. Our goal is to develop models by which local communities can find a way to fund and appropriate implement these practices

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