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Occurrence and Distribution of Microbiological Indicators in Groundwater and Stream Water

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A total of 136 stream water and 143 groundwater samples collected in five important hydrologic systems of the United States were analyzed for microbiological indicators to test monitoring concepts in a nationally consistent program. Total coliforms were found in 99%, Escherichia coli in 97%, and Clostridium perfringens in 73% of stream water samples analyzed for each bacterium. Total coliforms were found in 20%, E. coli in less than 1%, and C. perfringens in none of the groundwater samples analyzed for each bacterium. Although coliphage analyses were performed on many of the samples, contamination in the laboratory and problems discerning discrete plaques precluded quantification. Land use was found to have the most significant effect on concentrations of bacterial indicators in stream water. Presence of septic systems on the property near the sampling site and well depth were found to be related to detection of coliforms in groundwater, although these relationships were not statistically significant. A greater diversity of sites, more detailed information about some factors, and a larger dataset may provide further insight to factors that affect microbiological indicators.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 2000

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  • 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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