Case Study: A short work-flow to effectively source faecal pollution in recreational waters

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CASE STUDY - A short work-flow to effectively source faecal pollution in recreational waters

AUTHORS

Bree J. Tillett, Centre for Aquatic Pollution Identification and Management & Bio21 Institute, School of Biosciences, The University of Melbourne

David Sharley, Centre for Aquatic Pollution Identification and Management, School of Biosciences, The University of Melbourne

M. Inês G.S. Almeida, Centre for Aquatic Pollution Identification and Management, School of Chemistry, The University of Melbourne

Isabel Valenzuela, Centre for Aquatic Pollution Identification and Management & Bio21 Institute, School of Biosciences, The University of Melbourne

Ary A. Hoffmann, Centre for Aquatic Pollution Identification and Management & Bio21 Institute, School of Biosciences, The University of Melbourne

Vincent Pettigrove, Centre for Aquatic Pollution Identification and Management, School of Biosciences, The University of Melbourne & Aquatic Pollution Prevention Partnership, College of Science, Engineering & Health, RMIT University

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HIGHLIGHTS

 

  • A multi-tiered approach for real-time sourcing of human faecal pollution is proposed.

  • Chemical and microbial indicators were used as pollution identification tools.

  • A risk assessment framework allowed

    the detection of high-risk catchments.

  • A cracked sewer pipe and a sewer spill were located from 11 catchments in

    4 months.

ABSTRACT

 

Microbial pollution of recreational waters poses a significant public health risk which, unless mitigated, will con- tinue to increase with population growth. Water managers must implement strategies to accurately discriminate and source human from animal faecal contamination in complex urbanised environments. Our case-study used a new combination of chemical (i.e. ammonia) and microbial (i.e. Escherichia coli, Bacteroides spp.) faecal monitor- ing tools in a targeted multi-tiered approach to quickly identify pollution hot-spots and track high-risk subterra- nean stormwater drains in real-time. We successfully located three point sources of human faecal pollution (both episodic and constant pollution streams) within 11 catchments in a total monitoring time of four months. Alter- native approaches for obtaining such fine-scale accuracy are typically labour intensive and require expensive equipment.

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