2015 GSA Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, USA (1-4 November 2015)

Paper No. 210-66
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM


SHINGLER, Jeb, Environmenta Studies, McDaniel College, 2 College Hill, Westminster, MD 21157 and BECKER, Mona L., Environmental Studies, McDaniel College, 2 College Hill, Westminster, MD 21157, jcs012@connections.mcdaniel.edu

The availability of clean water is a growing environmental concern. In McDowell County, WV almost 70% of the residences dispense their wastewater directly into the streams via a straight pipe from the rear of the house, making the waters unhealthy and hazardous to humans. The direct output of household sewage introduces a variety of pathogens to the water system. Escherichia Coli (E. coli), which lives in the intestinal tract of mammals, is recognized by the EPA as the most effective and primary indicator of human fecal contamination. This research evaluated the concentrations of E. coli, Total Coliform (TC), and Enterobacteriaceae in eight McDowell County streams. Every attempt was made to sample the headwaters of each stream, after which several downstream samples were collected. Methods used to analyze the concentrations of E.Coli, TC, and Enterobacteriaceae consisted of LaMotte Biopaddles, Coliscan Easygel, and 3M Petrifilm plates for comparison. Results are generally reported in cfu (colony forming units)/100ml of sample.

The samples showed a marked increase in all bacteria enumerated downstream from the headwaters. For example, the headwaters of the Perry Camp Branch contained E. coli = 0cfu/100ml, TC = 300cfu/100ml, and Enterobacteriaceae = 1,200cfu/100 ml. Downstream, after passing 9 residences with straight pipes, the results from the Perry Camp Branch were E. coli = 1,100cfu/100ml, TC = 2,700cfu/100ml, and Enterobacteriaceae = 5,300cfu/100ml. For comparison, in 2012 the EPA set limits of E. coli for recreational waters, which are not designated as beaches, to 406cfu/100ml in one sample. The highest value of E. coli recorded this summer (2015) was from a small stream in Jenkinjones, WV of 6,400cfu/100ml. In some cases the downstream samples were too numerous to count. All the collected data will be analyzed the correlation between the concentration of bacteria and the number of active straight pipes between sample sites, which will provide insight into the movement of bacteria in surface waters.