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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Microbial Contamination of Shallow Karst Aquifers in Illinois and Southeastern Missouri

Authors
item Taylor, Steven - IL NATURAL HISTORY SURVEY
item Webb, Donald - IL NATURAL HISTORY SURVEY
item Panno, Samuel - IL STATE GEOL SURVEY
item Lerch, Robert

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: July 18, 2000
Publication Date: N/A

Technical Abstract: Spring and cave waters in Illinois and southeastern Missouri karst regions are typically contaminated with high levels of bacteria. Fecal coliform and fecal streptococcus bacteria have been identified in water from many springs and caves in Illinois and southeastern Missouri. Among the taxa commonly encountered are Enterococcus faecalis, Enterococcus facium, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Klebsiella pneumoniae. Sinkholes and relatively porous, fractured calcareous bedrock provide a setting where contaminants enter the groundwater with little or no filtration. Sources of water borne fecal bacteria can include native wildlife, livestock, and private septic systems. Use of contaminated groundwater as a drinking water source may pose health risks, as can visiting caves with extremely high fecal coliform counts. Fecal coliform contamination is indicative of possible nutrient enrichment which can adversely affect aquatic cave community structure and, at high levels, may result in reduced availability of dissolved oxygen. An overview of microbial contamination across several karst regions in Illinois and southeastern Missouri is presented, and seasonal fluctuations in microbial contamination and potential sources are discussed.

Last Modified: 10/23/2014
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