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Utilization of multiple microbial tools to evaluate efficacy of restoration strategies to improve recreational water quality at a Lake Michigan Beach (Racine, WI)

September 4, 2020

Hydro-meteorological conditions facilitate transport of fecal indicator bacteria (FIB) to the nearshore environment, affecting recreational water quality. North Beach (Racine, Wisconsin, United States), is an exemplar public beach site along Lake Michigan, where precipitation-mediated surface runoff, wave encroachment, stormwater and tributary outflow were demonstrated to contribute to beach advisories. Multiple restoration actions, including installation of a stormwater retention wetland, were successfully deployed to improve recreational water quality. Implementation of molecular methods (e.g. human microbial source tracking markers and Escherichia coli (E. coli) qPCR) assisted in identifying potential pollution sources and improving public health response time. However, periodic water quality failures still occur. As local beach managers reassess restoration measures in response to climatic changes, use of expanded microbial methods (including bacterial community profiling) may contribute to a better understanding of these dynamic environments. In this 2-year study (2015 and 2019), nearshore/offshore Lake Michigan, stormwater, and tributary samples were collected to determine if, 1) the constructed wetland (~50 m from the shoreline) continued to provide stormwater separation/retention and 2) mixing between onshore sources, Root River and Lake Michigan, was increasing due to rising precipitation/lake levels. Monthly rainfall totals were 1.5× higher in 2019 than 2015, coinciding with a 0.63 m lake-level rise. The prevalence of more intense, onshore winds also increased, facilitating interaction between potential reservoirs of FIB with nearshore water through wind driven waves and lake intrusion, e.g. beach sands and the adjacent Root River. While a strong relationship existed between wet weather wetland and North Beach nearshore E. coli concentrations (all sites), bacterial communities were strikingly different. Conversely, bacterial community overlap existed between the Root River mouth and nearshore/offshore sites. These results suggest the constructed wetland can accommodate the climate-related changes observed in this study. Future restoration activities could be directed towards upstream tributary sources in order to minimize microbial contaminants entering Lake Michigan.

Publication Year 2020
Title Utilization of multiple microbial tools to evaluate efficacy of restoration strategies to improve recreational water quality at a Lake Michigan Beach (Racine, WI)
DOI 10.1016/j.mimet.2020.106049
Authors Julie Kinzelman, Muruleedhara Byappanahalli, Meredith B. Nevers, Dawn Shively, Stephan Kurdas, Cindy H Nakatsu
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Microbiological Methods
Index ID 70214121
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Great Lakes Science Center