Incidence of human associated HF183 Bacteroides marker and E. coli levels in New Orleans Canals (USA).

2022, Science of The Total Environment, 150356.

With a focus on five sites in an impaired, densely populated area in the New Orleans area, we investigated the temporal and spatial variability of standard FIB and a marker of human-associated pollution (Bacteroides HF183).

With all sites combined, only a weak positive correlation (r = 0.345; p = 0.001) was observed between E. coli and HF183. Also, specific conductivity (r = - 0.374; p < 0.0001) and dissolved oxygen (r = - 0.390; p <0.0001) were observed to show a weak moderate correlation with E. coli. These correlations increased to moderately negative when HF183 was correlated with specific conductivity (r = - 0.448; p < 0.0001) and dissolved oxygen (r = - 0.455; p < 0.0001). E. coli contamination was generally highest at the sites in the canal that are situated in the most densely populated part of the watershed while HF183 was frequently detected across all sites. E. coli concentrations were significantly higher (p < 0.05) when HF183 was present. HF183 was detected at significantly higher concentrations in samples that exceeded the EPA water quality standard (WQS) than those that did not (p < 0.05). Dissolved oxygen and specific conductivity were significantly lower when E. coli WQS was exceeded or when HF183 was present (p < 0.05). Rainfall impacted E. coli concentrations and HF183 differently at the study sites. While HF183 and E. coli concentrations levels were significantly higher (p < 0.05) if the days prior to sampling had been wet, the frequency of detection of HF183 was unimpacted, as comparable detection rates were recorded during wet and dry weather conditions.

Without testing for HF183, it would have been assumed, based on testing for E. coli alone, that human fecal pollution was only associated with densely populated areas and rainfall events. E. coli alone may not be an effective indicator of sewage pollution at the study sites across all weather conditions and may need to be complemented with HF183 enumeration to optimize human fecal pollution identification and management at the watershed level.


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