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Microbial source tracking as a tool for TMDL development, Little Blue River in Independence, Missouri

November 1, 2013

The Little Blue River in Jackson County, Missouri has been listed by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources as impaired by bacteria for the protection of aquatic life and contact recreation from urban point and nonpoint sources. The Clean Water Act requires that a total maximum daily load (TMDL) for Escherichia coli (E. coli) be developed. Over a 5-year period, 108 base-flow, 87 stormflow, 48 fecal source, and 12 sewage influent samples were collected and analyzed for E. coli and Bacteroides general and host-associated microbial source tracking (MST) genetic markers. Less than half of the main-stem base-flow samples exceeded the E. coli state standard, whereas, all of the stormflow samples exceeded the standard during the recreation season (April through October). Both E. coli and MST markers were detected more frequently and at higher concentrations in stormflow samples. Only 14 percent of samples with E. coli detections greater than the Missouri state standard of 206 colonies per 100 milliliters had the human-associated Bacteroides marker as the only identified marker; therefore, Little Blue River TMDL development may require a broader scope beyond the municipal separate storm sewer system if bacteria sources are to be identified and addressed. Fecal samples showed a greater specificity with the human-associated marker than the dog- or ruminant-associated Bacteroides markers; however, false positives were at least one order of magnitude lower than true positives. MST data may be a useful tool for identifying probable sources of contamination and directing TMDL strategies.

Publication Year 2013
Title Microbial source tracking as a tool for TMDL development, Little Blue River in Independence, Missouri
DOI 10.2175/193864713813726920
Authors Eric D. Christensen, Rebecca N. Bushon, Amie M. G. Brady
Publication Type Book
Publication Subtype Conference publication
Index ID 70047732
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse