Investigation of the presence and change over time of water quality parameters in selected natural swimming areas in Oregon Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/vh53x0306

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  • Few studies, and none in Oregon, have examined the presence and change of water quality parameters over time in popular natural swimming areas. This information is necessary to better understand water quality and risk of illness from either fecal contamination or cross-infection from other swimmers. The purpose of this study was to quantitatively measure bacterial and selected physical and chemical parameters, and collect background information for changes to the current state water quality criteria. Five natural swimming areas in Linn, Benton and Polk counties were chosen and sampled biweekly for physical, chemical, and bacterial parameters over a nine week period from June 28 to August 31, 1996. The results showed differences in bacterial levels over the sampling period which often varied by degrees of magnitude between sites. For example, the range in Escherichia coli levels was between 0 and 1000 colonies/100mL sample for two sites on the same sampling day. Similarly, the range in fecal coliform levels was between 5 and 500 colonies/100mL sample. The daily colony counts at each site exceeded the state standards at least 10% of the time for E. coli and 21% of the time for fecal coliform. At the most popular swimming site, Montieth Park. the fecal coliform regulatory levels were exceeded 79% of the time and E. coli levels were exceeded 42% of the time. This may be due to turbidity, high bather load, or a broken sewer line. The 30 day log mean of these values shows consistently elevated fecal coliform problems only at Montieth Park. For the other sites, the log means did not exceed the state and federal regulatory limits for fecal coliform or E. coll. This raises questions about which estimates should be used to assess public health risk. None of the other parameters in this study were correlated with bacterial counts, so it appears that none of these factors is solely responsible for elevated bacterial levels. Further testing should be done at Montieth Park to determine the cause of the elevated fecal coliform levels. Any follow-up studies should test several different indicator organisms in addition to E. coli for comparison and assessment of their relationship to public health risk.
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