Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Urban Waters Federal Partnership: Novel bacteria monitoring technology in support of recreational water quality monitoring in the Lower Delaware River

September 28, 2023

The United States Geological Survey’s (USGS) New Jersey Water Science Center, in coordination with the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) deployed a novel bacterial water-quality monitor, the Fluidion Alert V2 (Fluidion), in the Delaware River at Pyne Poynt Park in Camden County, New Jersey. Following United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recreational water quality criteria, DRBC has been evaluating fecal indicator bacteria (FIB) abundance along Lower Delaware River at Pyne Poynt Park in support of primary use recreation (DRBC, 2022). The EPA recreation criteria establish acceptable levels of FIB abundance for primary contact recreation, such as swimming, and secondary contact recreation, such as fishing and boating. Both primary and secondary recreational contact with water are classified based on the abundance of FIB, including Escherichia coli (E. coli), in waterways used for recreation (EPA, 2012). FIB indicate the likely presence of human fecal contamination in the water which is often associated with a variety of viral, bacterial, and fungal pathogens (organisms that can cause disease) (Cann and others, 2012, Gibson and others, 1998, and Patz and others, 2008). Results from a 2019 and 2020 DRBC focused bacterial monitoring study indicates that some locations within the area designated for secondary recreation, including Pyne Poynt Park, may support primary contact recreation during certain environmental conditions (Yagecic, 2020). The use of novel pathogen detection technology capable of remotely producing near-real-time measurements of bacteria abundance, would resolve the limitations of traditional sampling methods currently used by DRBC. With its capability of performing automatic, in-situ microbiological analysis, the Fluidion offers the possibility of direct measurement of FIB (Total Coliforms and E. coli) remotely and in less time than traditional discrete sampling. In support of DRBC efforts, the USGS performed a technical evaluation of the Fluidion at Pyne Poynt Park during peak recreation season in 2021 and 2022 to assess the Fluidion’s capability to produce accurate and timely FIB measurements. Results from this study will (1) provide a supplemental dataset of bacteria abundance for the characterization of the Pyne Poynt Park waterfront area, (2) determine the Fluidion’s potential to provide near-instantaneous bacteria abundance to water-resource managers for use as an early warning system, (3) help in designing new procedures for operating and maintaining in-situ FIB analyzers, and (4) aid in developing new data management techniques for merging cloud-based telemetry system with existing USGS data infrastructure. This study produced enumerated data for E. coli and total fecal coliform, measured using the Fluidion Alert V2, from August 18, 2021, through October 18, 2021, and May 11, 2022, through September 29, 2022. These data were generated using commercial technology not officially endorsed by the USGS. REFERENCES: Cann, K.F., Thomas, D.Rh., Salmon, R.L., Wyn-Jones, A.P., and Kay, D., 2012, Extreme water-related weather events and waterborne disease: Epidemiology and Infection, v. 141, n. 4, p. 671-686, accessed April 13, 2023, at Delaware River Basin Commission [DRBC], 2022, Administrative manual part III, Water Quality Regulations: Delaware River Basin Commission 18 CFR Part 410, 136 p., accessed May 30, 2023, at Gibson II, C.J., Stadterman, K.L., States, S., and Sykora, J., 1998, Combined sewer overflows: a source of Cryptosporidium and Giardia?: Water Science and Technology, v. 38, n. 12, p. 67-72, accessed May 30, 2023, at Patz, J.A., Vavrus, S.J., Uejio, C.K., McLellan, S.L., 2008, Climate change and waterborne disease risk in the Great Lakes region of the U.S.: American Journal of Preventative Medicine, v. 35, n.5, p. 451-458, accessed May 30, 2023, at United States Environmental Protection Agency [EPA], 2012, Recreational Water Quality Criteria: United States Environmental Protection Agency Office of Water 820-F-12-058, aaccessed May 30, 2023,…. Yagecic, J., 2020, Recreation uses in the estuary, 2019 bacteria sample: Delaware River Basin Commission, 21 p., accessed May 30, 2023, at….

Publication Year 2023
Title Urban Waters Federal Partnership: Novel bacteria monitoring technology in support of recreational water quality monitoring in the Lower Delaware River
DOI 10.5066/P9CZ0V2Q
Authors Daniel D Skulski, Anna C Boetsma, Heather A Heckathorn, Jacob T Gray, Lucas M Sirotniak, Kathryn Cahalane
Product Type Data Release
Record Source USGS Digital Object Identifier Catalog
USGS Organization New Jersey Water Science Center