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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Influence of Land Use on Coliform Bacterial Populations in the Currency Creek Watershed

Authors
item Entry, James
item Thies, Janice - UNIV. OF WEST SYDNEY
item Hubbard, Robert
item Harchegani, Begie - UNIV. OF WEST SYDNEY

Submitted to: International Conference on Water Resources Engineering Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: November 9, 1999
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Land application of animal wastes is a means of both disposing of the waste and using them as a fertilizer to supply nutrients to crops. If waste is applied at rates exceeding soil assimilation capacity, the environment may become contaminated and disease may result. A major concern with land application of animal wastes is contamination of surface and groundwater by pathogenic bacteria. These same bodies of water are often used for sources of drinking water and/or for recreational activities. We investigated the impact of animal waste application through different land use types on total and fecal coliform bacteria and fecal streptococci populations in a first order ephemeral tributary of the Hawkesbury River in Sydney, Australia. The tributary flowed through lands used for dairy, poultry, pastures and crop production. After a 2 year storm event, initial stream flow contained 100 greater total and fecal coliform bacteria and fecal streptococci than was measured in soils. Total and fecal coliform bacteria and fecal streptococci 10 higher after flow past dairy and poultry operations than crop production or pasture land. Bacterial populations decreased only slightly as water flowed down stream. Total and fecal coliform bacteria and fecal streptococci died off by approximately 10 at 3-4 day intervals.

Technical Abstract: We investigated the impact of different kinds of animal waste application to agricultural land on total and fecal coliform bacteria and fecal streptococci populations in a first order ephemeral tributary of the Hawkesbury River in Sydney, Australia. The tributary flowed through lands used for dairy, poultry, pastures and crop production. A 2 year storm event produced 54.2 mm rainfall in the watershed. Initial stream flow contained 100 greater total and fecal coliform bacteria and fecal streptococci than was measured in soils. Total and fecal coliform bacteria and fecal streptococci 101 higher after flow past dairy and poultry operations than crop production or pasture land. Bacterial populations decreased only slightly as water flowed down stream. Total and fecal coliform bacteria and fecal streptococci died off by approximately one order of magnitude at 3-4 day intervals for 21 days. This research shows that enteric bacteria can exist in streams for periods of at least 21 days after deposition and therefore pose a potential threat to public health. Regardless of the potential advantages, the use of animal waste as a fertilizer needs regulation in regard to pathogenic organisms to ensure that soil and water resources are not contaminated.

Last Modified: 12/27/2014
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