The U.S. Geological Survey worked in cooperation with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to assess the potential sources of fecal contamination entering South Oyster Bay, a shallow embayment on the southern shore of Long Island, New York. Water samples are routinely collected by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation in the bay and analyzed for fecal coliform bacteria, an indicator of fecal contamination, to determine the need for closure of shellfish beds for harvest and consumption. Fecal coliform and other bacteria are an indicator of the potential presence of pathogenic (disease-causing) bacteria. However, indicator bacteria alone cannot determine the biological or geographical sources of contamination; therefore, microbial source tracking was implemented to determine various biological sources of contamination. In addition, information such as the location, weather and season, and surrounding land use where a sample was collected help determine the geographical source and conveyance of land-based water to the embayment.
Analysis revealed that the most substantial source of fecal contamination to South Oyster Bay was stormwater, particularly during the summer months. The highest frequency of fecal coliform detections in source sites were under wet summer conditions, and the highest fecal coliform concentrations were under wet summer conditions at the Cedar Creek near Bay Place and Unqua Lake Culvert sites (more than 16,000 most probable number per 100 milliliters each). The human-associated Bacteroides marker was the most frequently detected microbial source tracking marker in South Oyster Bay (50 percent positive detections). The human marker was detected at least twice in all surface water source and receptor sites, except for the Massapequa Lake East Culvert source site that did not have any positive human marker detections. Canine contamination was prolific at source sites but was associated with low fecal coliform concentrations in the winter months. All detections of the canine-associated Bacteroides marker were in samples collected during the winter season and were associated with fecal coliform concentrations below the reporting limit, indicating that birds are not a persistent source of fecal coliform to South Oyster Bay. The absence of fecal coliform and human markers in groundwater samples collected throughout the larger study area indicates that water from cesspools or septic tanks do not contribute fecal coliform to the bay. Further, microbial source tracking markers were not detected in the sandy sediment collected at Zachs Bay. Based a classification scheme developed to convey the degree of fecal contamination to stakeholders and resource managers, the Cedar Creek near Bay Place and Unqua Lake Culvert sites were identified as locations that contribute substantial fecal contamination to South Oyster Bay.
|Title||Using microbial source tracking to identify fecal contamination sources in South Oyster Bay on Long Island, New York|
|Authors||Tristen N. Tagliaferri, Shawn C. Fisher, Christopher M. Kephart, Natalie Cheung, Ariel P. Reed, Robert J. Welk|
|Publication Subtype||USGS Numbered Series|
|Series Title||Scientific Investigations Report|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||New York Water Science Center|