Jump to main content
Jump to site search


Frequent detection of a human fecal indicator in the urban ocean: environmental drivers and covariation with enterococci

Author affiliations

Abstract

Fecal pollution of surface waters presents a global human health threat. New molecular indicators of fecal pollution have been developed to address shortcomings of traditional culturable fecal indicators. However, there is still little information on their fate and transport in the environment. The present study uses spatially and temporally extensive data on traditional (culturable enterococci, cENT) and molecular (qPCR-enterococci, qENT and human-associated marker, HF183/BacR287) indicator concentrations in marine water surrounding highly-urbanized San Francisco, California, USA to investigate environmental and anthropogenic processes that impact fecal pollution. We constructed multivariable regression models for fecal indicator bacteria at 14 sampling stations. The human marker was detected more frequently in our study than in many other published studies, with detection frequency at some stations as high as 97%. The odds of cENT, qENT, and HF183/BacR287 exceeding health-relevant thresholds were statistically elevated immediately following discharges of partially treated combined sewage, and cENT levels dissipated after approximately 1 day. However, combined sewer discharges were not important predictors of indicator levels typically measured in weekly monitoring samples. Instead, precipitation and solar insolation were important predictors of cENT in weekly samples, while precipitation and water temperature were important predictors of HF183/BacR287 and qENT. The importance of precipitation highlights the significance of untreated storm water as a source of fecal pollution to the urban ocean, even for a city served by a combined sewage system. Sunlight and water temperature likely control persistence of the indicators via photoinactivation and dark decay processes, respectively.

Graphical abstract: Frequent detection of a human fecal indicator in the urban ocean: environmental drivers and covariation with enterococci

Back to tab navigation

Supplementary files

Publication details

The article was received on 15 Dec 2017, accepted on 26 Jan 2018 and first published on 26 Jan 2018


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C7EM00594F
Citation: Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts, 2018, Advance Article
  •   Request permissions

    Frequent detection of a human fecal indicator in the urban ocean: environmental drivers and covariation with enterococci

    W. C. Jennings, E. C. Chern, D. O'Donohue, M. G. Kellogg and A. B. Boehm, Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts, 2018, Advance Article , DOI: 10.1039/C7EM00594F

Search articles by author

Spotlight

Advertisements