Kelligrews Ecological Enhancement Program



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RESEARCH


In 2009 KEEP's summer student, Phoebe Metcalfe, completed various research projects on the waters of Kelligrews and surrounding areas. These projects include:

"Fecal Coliform Testing in the Kelligrews River and the Lower Gully River"

"Water Quality Data Obtained Using the Hydrolab Quanta G Sonde"

"A List of Possible Threats to Water Quality on the Kelligrews River and the Lower Gully River"

"Is the Water Level in the Wetland Adjacent to Kelligrews Pond Influenced by the Tides?"

And "Turbidity Analysis in the Kelligrews River and the Lower Gully River"

These documents are available for download on KEEP's facebook page

http://www.facebook.com/groups/KEEP1999/


EXCERPT


Fecal coliform testing in the Kelligrews River and the Lower Gully River

By: Phoebe Metcalfe

Summer 2009

1.0 Introduction

1.1 Introduction to Fecal Coliforms:

Microorganisms are ubiquitous, they are found everywhere. Therefore, water is a host to whelms of microorganisms, many of which are harmless, but some of which are harmful. Harmful microbes are known as pathogens. Many pathogens found in water can be fecal in origin. Sources of fecal contamination include sewage system leaks and outfalls, septic system discharge, and animal wastes. These fecal pathogens are dangerous to human health and aquatic life. Testing for individual pathogens can not only be dangerous, it can be time consuming because of the large variety of pathogens possibly found in water. Testing techniques can also be difficult and complex.

Therefore, indicator organisms are tested for rather than the actual pathogens.

Escherichia coli is a common indicator organism (Patel, 2008). It is found in the intestine of warm-blooded animals and is non-pathogenic. Its presence indicates fecal contamination, which could possibly contain harmful pathogens. The mColiBlue test is used to test for fecal coliforms (Patel, 2008). It uses membrane filtration and a differential media that selectively grows coliforms and inhibits the growth of other bacteria (Patel, 2008). E. coli colonies grow blue, while non-fecal coliforms, which can be found naturally in the environment and do not pose a large health risk, grow red. The CCME Recreational Water Quality Guidelines state a value of 2000 E. coli per 1 litre of water as the maximum acceptable level for water used for recreational activities where humans are in direct contact with the water. There is no specific value given as a guideline for the maintenance of healthy aquatic life.

1.2Fecal Contamination in Kelligrews:

Both Kelligrews Pond and Gully Pond are at risk of falling victim to fecal contamination. Kelligrews Pond is located near the Cronin’s Head sewage treatment plant, and is at risk of fecal contamination from the plant. There is also a lift station nearby that pumps sewage to the treatment plant. This lift station has an overflow pipe from which sewage flows directly into Kelligrews Pond when the lift station malfunctions, such as when the power fails. Gully Pond has a culvert that flows into it near the mouth that a resident reported having seen raw sewage flowing from in June 2009 (Authors Observation, 2009). Gully Pond is not always open to the bay, which lessens the likelihood of contamination being carried into the bay. This ultimately results in contamination being trapped in the pond, and becoming more concentrated if it is repeatedly accumulating.

2.0 Methods

Testing for fecal contamination in Kelligrews Pond was performed as part of extensive sampling in the Kelligrews River and Nut Brook by Yuan Chen, PhD student with the Engineering Department of Memorial University. Fecal coliform testing was performed in Gully Pond by Phoebe Metcalfe, Water Quality student from the Marine Institute, after suspicions about a sewage outflow pipe and the report of sewage outflow by a resident. The mcoli Blue test for fecal coliforms was used in all cases to quantify the amount of fecal contamination found. In some cases dilutions had to be performed to get countable numbers.

 

 

3.0 Results:

 

Only results obtained for E. coli  numbers are presented in the results as they are the organism of interest in determining if the water could possibly be contaminated by fecal coliforms. While the mColiBlue test also allows a count of coliforms they are less useful as they are found naturally in the environment and therefore cannot indicate fecal contamination. Coliform numbers would be useful in cases where the water was treated with a disinfectant and should show no bacterial content at all, but not in the cases examined in this study as the areas sampled are natural waterways. Data on coliform numbers can be found in Appendix 1 and Appendix 2.

The results for Kelligrews Pond were forwarded by Yuan Chen. While it is known that dilutions were performed to get countable numbers for some of the locations that he sampled it is unclear which specific results are after dilutions. Yuan Chen sampled multiple locations on the Kelligrews River and in Nut Brook, the results of which can be found in Appendix 1.

 

 

Table 1: Amount of E. coli found in the mouth of Kelligrews Pond displays data from samples collected on June 23, 2009 and July 14, 2009. The number of E. coli found in the water samples at these times were 12 E. coli / 100ml of water and 14 E. coli / 100ml of water respectively.

E. coli found in the mouth of Kelligrews Pond displays data from samples collected on June 23, 2009 and July 14, 2009. The number of E. coli found in the water samples at these times were 12 E. coli / 100ml of water and 14 E. coli / 100ml of water respectively.

Table 1: Amount of E. coli found in the mouth of Kelligrews Pond

Sampling Date Number of E. coli colonies/ 100ml

June 23, 2009 12

E. coli colonies/ 100ml

June 23, 2009 12

 

 

July 14, 2009 14

Table 2: Amount of E. coli found in the mouth of Gully Pond displays data from

samples collected on July 28, 2009 and September 2, 2009. The number of E. coli given in Table 2 is the average of the amount found at those dilutions that had count