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Automated time-series measurement of microbial concentrations in groundwater-derived water supplies

August 28, 2018

Fecal contamination by human and animal pathogens, including viruses, bacteria, and protozoa, is a potential human health hazard, especially with regards to drinking water. Pathogen occurrence in groundwater varies considerably in space and time, which can be difficult to characterize as sampling typically requires hundreds of liters of water to be passed through a filter. Here we describe the design and deployment of an automated sampler suited for hydrogeologically and chemically dynamic groundwater systems. Our design focused on a compact form to facilitate transport and quick deployment to municipal and domestic water supplies. We deployed a sampler to characterize water quality from a household well tapping a shallow fractured dolomite aquifer in northeast Wisconsin. The sampler was deployed from January to April 2017, and monitored temperature, nitrate, chloride, specific conductance, and fluorescent dissolved organic matter on a minute time step; water was directed to sequential microbial filters during three recharge periods that ranged from 5 to 20 days. Results from the automated sampler demonstrate the dynamic nature of the household water quality, especially with regard to microbial targets, which were shown to vary 1 to 2 orders of magnitude during a single sampling event. We believe assessments of pathogen occurrence and concentration, and related assessments of drinking well vulnerability, would be improved by the time‐integrated characterization provided by this sampler.

Publication Year 2019
Title Automated time-series measurement of microbial concentrations in groundwater-derived water supplies
DOI 10.1111/gwat.12822
Authors David W. Owens, Randall J. Hunt, Aaron Firnstahl, Maureen A. Muldoon, Mark A. Borchardt
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Groundwater
Index ID 70202693
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Upper Midwest Water Science Center