Microbiological Quality of Puget Sound Basin Streams and Identification of Contaminant Sources

Sandra S. Embrey 


Fecal coliforms, Escherichia coli, enterococci, and somatic coliphages were detected in samples from 31 sites on streams draining urban and agricultural regions of the Puget Sound Basin Lowlands. Densities of bacteria in 48 and 71 percent of the samples exceeded U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s freshwater recreation criteria for Escherichia coli and enterococci, respectively, and 81 percent exceeded Washington State fecal coliform standards. Male-specific coliphages were detected in samples from 15 sites. Male-specific F+RNA coliphages isolated from samples taken at South Fork Thornton and Longfellow Creeks were serotyped as Group II, implicating humans as potential contaminant sources. These two sites are located in residential, urban areas. F+RNA coliphages in samples from 10 other sites, mostly in agricultural or rural areas, were serotyped as Group I, implicating non-human animals as likely sources. Chemicals common to wastewater, including fecal sterols, were detected in samples from several urban streams, and also implicate humans, at least in part, as possible sources of fecal bacteria and viruses to the streams.

Journal of the American Water Resources Association, vol. 37, no. 2, p. 407-421, April 2001

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