Hydrologic Transport of Escherichia coli Through a Piedmont Watershed
Rasmussen, Todd C.
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The United States Environmental Protection Agency has published a Final Rule establishing Escherichia coli (E. co/r)-based water quality standards for the protection of public health. To date, thirteen states have transitioned at least partially to the new voluntary E. coli standard. The State of Georgia, with 4263 kilometers of impaired waterways, currently uses fecal coliform indices to gauge impairment of water resources; however, this method has been widely criticized as inadequate for providing the maximum amount of public protection against water-borne pathogens. As water resource management evolves to operate at the watershed scale, increasing stakeholder concerns over eutrophication and potential increases in pathogenic bacteria densities complicate alternative management futures. Efforts to describe the transport of bacteria from areas of non-point source pollution to receiving bodies of water are common; however, no explanation of E. coil transport and fate in Southeast- ern watersheds exists. Specific research goals focused on the hydrologic transport of E. coil from stormwater discharge, an animal confinement operation, and through a small subwatershed and pond. Initial results to quantify and characterize the source, transport mechanism, and fate of E. coil at the watershed scale are discussed. A modern toolbox approach to bacteria source tracking is proposed and a theoretical model constructed to aid in the development of accurate and comprehensive Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for the State of Georgia.