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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: SURVIVAL AND TRANSPORT OF PATHOGENS FROM ANIMAL PRODUCTION SYSTEMS WITHIN LANDSCAPES OF THE SOUTHEASTERN USA Title: Microbial Source Tracking Guide Document

Authors
item Santo Domingo, J - USEPA
item Edge, T - ENVIRONMENT CANADA
item Griffith, J - SO CAL CWRP
item Hansel, J - USEPA
item Harwood, V - UNIV OF SOUTH FLORIDA
item JENKINS, MICHAEL
item Layton, A - UNIV OF TENNESSEE
item Marirosa, M - USEPA
item Nakatsu, C - PURDUE UNIVERSITY
item Oshiro, R - USEPA
item Sadowsky, M - UNIV OF MINNESOTA
item Shanks, O - USEPA
item Stelma, G - USEPA
item Stewart, J - NOAA
item Stoeckel, D - USGS
item Wiggins, B - JAMES MADISON UNIV
item Wilbur, J - WORCESTER POLYTECHNIC

Submitted to: Environmental Protection Agency Special Publication
Publication Type: Government Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: June 1, 2005
Publication Date: June 1, 2005
Citation: Santo Domingo, J.S., Edge, T., Griffith, J., Hansel, J., Harwood, V.J., Jenkins, M., Layton, A., Marirosa, M., Nakatsu, C., Oshiro, R., Sadowsky, M., Shanks, O., Stelma, G., Stewart, J., Stoeckel, D., Wiggins, B., Wilbur, J. 2005. Microbial source tracking guide document. US Environmental Protection Agency Special Publication. EPA/600R-05/064. p. 135.

Interpretive Summary: A significant percentage of U.S. surface waters do not meet the standard required by the Clean Water Act because of fecal pollution that can threaten public health. Being able to identify the source of fecal pollution for example human from malfunctioning septic tanks, or from a swine or dairy operation would allow for measures to correct the situation and restore the water body in question to standards of the Clean Water Act. Methods to identify the sources of fecal pollution have been under development by the scientific community which includes the USEPA, USGS, NOAA, USDA-ARS, Environment Canada, state environmental protection departments, municipal water companies, and academic institutions. These methods of microbial source tracking (MST) have focused on genetic fingerprints of fecal microorganisms, mainly bacteria and some viruses. The objective of the USEPA publication Microbial Source Tracking Guide Document is to present an overview of current methods to track the source of fecal contamination and note their strengths and weaknesses. It is intended to help local, state, and federal regulatory agencies in their efforts to find solutions that would lead to the restoration of impaired waters so that they meet the standards set by the Clean Water Act.

Technical Abstract: A significant percentage of surface waters I the U.S. do not meet the designated use criteria as determined by high densities of fecal indicator bacteria as set forth by the Clean Water Act. Both point and non-point sources contribute to water pollution. In contrast to point sources such as sewage treatment facilities non-point sources are not as readily identified. Over the last few years methods for identifying sources of non-point sources of fecal pollution and referred to as methods of microbial source tracking (MST) has been a focus of research within the scientific community. This USEPA publication, Microbial Source Tracking Guide Document, was put together by scientist with EPA, USGS, NOAA, USDA, Environment Canada, and scientists from academia with the intention of reviewing the science and providing a guide document for water quality managers, environmental regulators, and public health officials. This guide document is divided into seven chapters: 1. an introduction to fecal source identification; 2. decision criteria; 3. microbial source tracking approaches; 4. data collection and analysis in library-dependent approaches; 5. methods performance; 6. assumptions and limitations of MST methods; and 7. applications of MST approaches (case studies). A comprehensive bibliography is included.

Last Modified: 9/29/2014
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