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Statistical Investigations into Indicator Bacteria Concentrations in Houston Metropolitan Watersheds

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Bacterial pollution in the Houston metropolitan area (Texas) watersheds was studied using statistical methods to determine the Escherichia coli levels and causes of their spatial and temporal variability. Houston bayous generally exhibit elevated E. coli concentrations. The more urban watersheds had higher concentration ranges and geometric means and had more spatial variation with higher overall ranges at downstream monitoring stations. They also were less sensitive to temperature variations and more strongly influenced by rainfall events. The median flow in the more urban bayous is predominantly wastewater. Frequent rainfall in the region, combined with relatively long travel times in the bayous, results in elevated bacterial levels in the bayous. Multiple regression models using water quality parameters were more representative on the segment level and not at the watershed level and may not be useful for predictions that rely on conventional water quality measures, particularly in urban watersheds, such as those studied here. Cluster analysis for the segments resulted in two distinct clusters differentiated by their developed land-use, population density, domestic animal density, and grassy land-use.

Keywords: Escherichia coli; bacterial pollution; regression; spatial and temporal variability; statistical analyses; urban; watershed

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: April 1, 2010

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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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