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Comparison of Escherichia coli, Total Coliform, and Fecal Coliform Populations as Indicators of Wastewater Treatment Efficiency

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Escherichia coli, total coliform, and fecal coliform population data were collected from two wastewater treatment facilities, a subsurface flow artificial wetlands, and a receiving stream. Results are presented from individual wastewater treatment process streams, final effluent, and river sites upstream and downstream of the treatment facilities. The QuantiTray technique with 4-methylumbelliferyl-β-glucuronide-based Colilert media was an effective method for quantifying E. coli and total coliform populations in these waters. Thermotolerant Klebsiella pneumoniae present in the effluent from one treatment facility interfered with recovery of fecal coliforms on m-FC media using the delayed-incubation membrane filtration technique; Klebsiella interference was not observed in the enumeration of E. coli by the QuantiTray technique. Both stream standards and discharge permits can be revised to apply E. coli as the indicator of fecal contamination. The results support development of E. coli-based effluent and stream standards to protect public health.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 1999-05-01

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  • Water Environment Research (WER) is published monthly, including an annual Literature Review. A subscription to WER includes access to the latest content back to 1992, as well as access to fast track articles. An individual subscription is valid for 12 months from month of purchase.

    Water Environment Research� (WER�) publishes peer-reviewed research papers, research notes, state-of-the-art and critical reviews on original, fundamental and applied research in all scientific and technical areas related to water quality, pollution control, and management. An annual Literature Review provides a review of published books and articles on water quality topics from the previous year.

    Published as: Sewage Works Journal, 1928 - 1949; Sewage and Industrial Wastes, 1950 - 1959; Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, 1959 - Oct 1989; Research Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, Nov 1989 - 1991; Water Environment Research, 1992 - present.
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