Fecal indicator and pathogenic bacteria and their antibiotic resistance in alluvial groundwater of an irrigated agricultural region with dairies

Journal of Environmental Quality
By: , and 

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Abstract

Surveys of microbiological groundwater quality were conducted in a region with intensive animal agriculture in California, USA. The survey included monitoring and domestic wells in eight concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and 200 small (domestic and community supply district) supply wells across the region. Campylobacter was not detected in groundwater, whereas Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Salmonella were each detected in 2 of 190 CAFO monitoring well samples. Nonpathogenic generic E. coli and Enterococcus spp. were detected in 24.2% (46/190) and 97.4% (185/190) groundwater samples from CAFO monitoring wells and in 4.2% (1/24) and 87.5% (21/24) of CAFO domestic wells, respectively. Concentrations of both generic E. coli and Enterococcus spp. were significantly associated with well depth, season, and the type of adjacent land use in the CAFO. No pathogenic bacteria were detected in groundwater from 200 small supply wells in the extended survey. However, 4.5 to 10.3% groundwater samples were positive for generic E. coli and Enterococcus. Concentrations of generic E. coli were not significantly associated with any factors, but concentrations of Enterococcus were significantly associated with proximity to CAFOs, seasons, and concentrations of potassium in water. Among a subset of E. coli and Enterococcus isolates from both surveys, the majority of E. coli (63.6%) and Enterococcus (86.1%) isolates exhibited resistance to multiple (≥3) antibiotics. Findings confirm significant microbial and antibiotic resistance loading to CAFO groundwater. Results also demonstrate significant attenuative capacity of the unconfined alluvial aquifer system with respect to microbial transport.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Fecal indicator and pathogenic bacteria and their antibiotic resistance in alluvial groundwater of an irrigated agricultural region with dairies
Series title Journal of Environmental Quality
DOI 10.2134/jeq2015.03.0139
Volume 44
Issue 5
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher American Society of Agronomy
Contributing office(s) California Water Science Center
Description 13 p.
First page 1435
Last page 1447
Country United States
State California
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