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Multiple modes of water quality impairment by fecal contamination in a rapidly developing coastal area: southwest Brunswick County, North Carolina

Multiple modes of water quality impairment by fecal contamination in a rapidly developing coastal area: southwest Brunswick County, North Carolina
Multiple modes of water quality impairment by fecal contamination in a rapidly developing coastal area: southwest Brunswick County, North Carolina
Fecal contamination of surface waters is a significant problem, particularly in rapidly developing coastal watersheds. Data from a water quality monitoring program in southwest Brunswick County, North Carolina, gathered in support of a regional wastewater and stormwater management program were used to examine likely modes and sources of fecal contamination. Sampling was conducted at 42 locations at 3–4-week intervals between 1996 and 2003, including streams, ponds, and estuarine waters in a variety of land use settings. Expected fecal sources included human wastewater systems (on-site and central), stormwater runoff, and direct deposition by animals. Fecal coliform levels were positively associated with rainfall measures, but frequent high fecal coliform concentrations at times of no rain indicated other modes of contamination as well. Fecal coliform levels were also positively associated with silicate levels, a groundwater source signal, indicating that flux of fecal-contaminated groundwater was a mode of contamination, potentially elevating FC levels in impacted waters independent of stormwater runoff. Fecal contamination by failing septic or sewer systems at many locations was significant and in addition to effects of stormwater runoff. Rainfall was also linked to fecal contamination by central sewage treatment system failures. These results highlight the importance of considering multiple modes of water pollution and different ways in which human activities cause water quality degradation. Management of water quality in coastal regions must therefore recognize diverse drivers of fecal contamination to surface waters.
Stormwater, Sewage, Septic tanks, Fecal coliform bacteria, Groundwater, Silicate
0167-6369
89
Cahoon, Lawrence B.
bb05b71a-05f7-4fa0-a5e5-7c2d1b584912
Hales, Jason C.
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Carey, Erin S.
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Loucaides, Socratis
5d0c31a4-269d-44a5-a858-13dc609ae072
Rowland, Kevin R.
bd9f7811-190e-4af5-8655-394c7b9189b3
Toothman, Byron R.
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Cahoon, Lawrence B.
bb05b71a-05f7-4fa0-a5e5-7c2d1b584912
Hales, Jason C.
5823ca11-f09a-499f-83b2-b83d235beb34
Carey, Erin S.
833d58e2-a7b6-405c-94a7-f1e180b4a7e3
Loucaides, Socratis
5d0c31a4-269d-44a5-a858-13dc609ae072
Rowland, Kevin R.
bd9f7811-190e-4af5-8655-394c7b9189b3
Toothman, Byron R.
62ff6e59-c9bb-47ad-8242-5a973072a9a4

Cahoon, Lawrence B., Hales, Jason C., Carey, Erin S., Loucaides, Socratis, Rowland, Kevin R. and Toothman, Byron R. (2016) Multiple modes of water quality impairment by fecal contamination in a rapidly developing coastal area: southwest Brunswick County, North Carolina. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 188 (2), 89. (doi:10.1007/s10661-015-5081-6).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Fecal contamination of surface waters is a significant problem, particularly in rapidly developing coastal watersheds. Data from a water quality monitoring program in southwest Brunswick County, North Carolina, gathered in support of a regional wastewater and stormwater management program were used to examine likely modes and sources of fecal contamination. Sampling was conducted at 42 locations at 3–4-week intervals between 1996 and 2003, including streams, ponds, and estuarine waters in a variety of land use settings. Expected fecal sources included human wastewater systems (on-site and central), stormwater runoff, and direct deposition by animals. Fecal coliform levels were positively associated with rainfall measures, but frequent high fecal coliform concentrations at times of no rain indicated other modes of contamination as well. Fecal coliform levels were also positively associated with silicate levels, a groundwater source signal, indicating that flux of fecal-contaminated groundwater was a mode of contamination, potentially elevating FC levels in impacted waters independent of stormwater runoff. Fecal contamination by failing septic or sewer systems at many locations was significant and in addition to effects of stormwater runoff. Rainfall was also linked to fecal contamination by central sewage treatment system failures. These results highlight the importance of considering multiple modes of water pollution and different ways in which human activities cause water quality degradation. Management of water quality in coastal regions must therefore recognize diverse drivers of fecal contamination to surface waters.

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Final Draft of SBWSA Fecal Sources.pdf - Accepted Manuscript
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Accepted/In Press date: December 2015
Published date: 15 January 2016
Keywords: Stormwater, Sewage, Septic tanks, Fecal coliform bacteria, Groundwater, Silicate
Organisations: Ocean and Earth Science

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 389437
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/389437
ISSN: 0167-6369
PURE UUID: 441f84ae-3098-4aed-8542-f3c03e48f944

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Date deposited: 07 Mar 2016 14:43
Last modified: 10 Dec 2019 06:37

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