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The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (WDEQ), is collecting water samples for analysis of fecal coliform bacteria at 18 stream sites as part of a statewide network. Contamination by bacteria of fecal origin in streams where contact recreation is a designated water use is a concern because of potential public-health risk from the presence of enteric pathogens. Fecal coliform concentrations are temporally and spatially variable in Wyoming streams-concentrations ranged from less than 1 to 45,000 colonies per 100 milliliters of water during 1990-99. Fecal coliform concentrations were less than the water-quality criterion of 400 colonies per 100 milliliters in 83 percent of the samples, indicating fecal coliform contamination is not a widespread problem in these Wyoming streams. However, 14 of the 18 monitoring sites had at least one sample in which the fecal coliform concentration exceeded 400 colonies per 100 milliliters at some time during the 10-year period. Fecal coliform concentrations generally are higher during April through September than during October through March. The higher concentrations coincide with the time period when the public-health risk is higher because summer months are when contact recreation use is more likely occurring. Fecal coliform concentrations were positively correlated with discharge and stream temperature and generally were negatively correlated with pH, specific conductance, and dissolved oxygen.
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Occurrence of fecal coliform bacteria in selected streams in Wyoming, 1990-99