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Characteristics of Bacteria and Water Quality along the Buffalo National River 2017-2018

January 21, 2022

A National Park Service Partnership Program project was conducted in 2017 - 2019 on water quality parameters up-stream and downstream of a confined animal feeding operation on a Buffalo National River tributary (Big Creek). Monthly, over a period of 20 months, patterns of nutrients in water (nitrogen and phosphorus), periphyton (chlorophyll a and algal assemblages), and bacterial responses (viable bacterial densities, total bacterial counts, and live bacterial metabolic activity) were measured at six sites along Buffalo National River. Heterotrophic bacteria were concentrated from the water samples. The metabolic activity of heterotrophic bacteria was determined by fluorescent staining of enzyme (esterase) activity then analysis by flow cytometry; live cells were cultured and counted from Luria agar; and total bacterial counts were done by flow cytometry using preserved samples. Water quality parameters are published in National Water Information System (NWIS; A laboratory study tested if organic wastewater contaminant compounds in classes previously identified in the watershed would influence bacterial metabolic activity.