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Microbial Assessment of Irrigation Water Used for Production of Fruit and Vegetables in Ontario, Canada

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Five hundred one irrigation water samples were collected from 27 irrigation water sources on 17 farms in southern Ontario, Canada, over a single irrigation season in 2002. The water samples were tested for the presence of the following bacterial water quality indicators: total coliform bacteria, fecal coliforms, Escherichia coli, and fecal streptococci. The median values per 100 ml of these indicators in the irrigation water samples were 3,000, 33, 15, and 1, respectively. Between 70.6 and 98.2% of irrigation water samples contained acceptable levels of fecal coliforms or E. coli, according to published irrigation water quality guidelines. Significant correlations (P < 0.05) were observed between the concentrations of different bacterial indicators and the degree of recent precipitation and concentrations of total coliforms and fecal streptococci. With the exception of fecal streptococci, which increased in number toward the end of the study, none of the indicators displayed a significant trend over the course of the season, as determined by linear regression analysis of indicator concentrations over time (P > 0.05).

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Laboratory Services Division, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada N1H 8J7 2: Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Guelph, Ontario, Canada N1G 4Y2

Publication date: July 1, 2005

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