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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Madison, Wisconsin » U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center » Environmentally Integrated Dairy Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #389435

Research Project: Managing Nutrients and Assessing Pathogen Emission Risks for Sustainable Dairy Production Systems

Location: Environmentally Integrated Dairy Management Research

Title: Manure and septic systems: The microbial health risk from contaminated household wells in Kewaunee County, Wisconsin

item Burch, Tucker
item STOKDYK, JOEL - Us Geological Survey (USGS)
item Spencer, Susan
item KIEKE, BURNEY - Marshfield Clinic Research
item FIRNSTAHL, AARON - Us Geological Survey (USGS)
item MULDOON, MAUREEN - Wisconsin Geological And Natural History Survey
item Borchardt, Mark

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/13/2022
Publication Date: 3/10/2022
Citation: Burch, T.R., Stokdyk, J.P., Spencer, S.K., Kieke, B.A., Firnstahl, A.D., Muldoon, M.A., Borchardt, M.A. 2022. Manure and septic systems: The microbial health risk from contaminated household wells in Kewaunee County, Wisconsin. Meeting Abstract. March 10-11, 2022.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Private wells are an important source of drinking water in Kewaunee County, Wisconsin. Due to the region’s fractured dolomite aquifer, these wells are vulnerable to contamination by human and zoonotic gastrointestinal pathogens originating from land-applied cattle manure and private septic systems. However, the magnitude of the health burden associated with this contamination is unknown. This study combined quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA) with a year-long county-wide pathogen occurrence study in order to predict total cases of acute gastrointestinal illness (AGI) caused by private well contamination in the county. It also used microbial source tracking to associate predicted cases with bovine, human, or unknown fecal sources. Results suggest that private well contamination could be responsible for as many as 301 AGI cases yr-1 in Kewaunee County and that 230 cases yr-1 were associated with a bovine fecal source (human: 12 cases yr-1, unknown: 59 cases yr-1). Furthermore, Cryptosporidium parvum was predicted to cause 190 cases yr-1, the most out of all 8 pathogens included in the QMRA. These results have important implications for land use and water resource management in Kewaunee County and inform the public health impacts of consuming drinking water produced in other similarly vulnerable hydrogeological settings.