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Occurrence and trends in the concentrations of fecal-indicator bacteria and the relation to field water-quality parameters in the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio Rivers and selected tributaries, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, 2001–09

Scientific Investigations Report 2015-5136

Prepared in cooperation with the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority and Allegheny County Health Department
By:
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https://doi.org/10.3133/sir20155136

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Abstract

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with the Allegheny County Health Department and Allegheny County Sanitary Authority, collected surface-water samples from the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio Rivers and selected tributaries during the period 2001–09 to assess the occurrence and trends in the concentrations of fecal-indicator bacteria during both wet- and dry-weather conditions.

A total of 1,742 water samples were collected at 52 main-stem and tributary sites. Quantifiable concentrations of Escherichia coli (E. coli) were reported in 1,667 samples, or 97.0 percent of 1,719 samples; concentrations in 853 samples (49.6 percent) exceeded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recreational water-quality criterion of 235 colonies per 100 milliliters (col/100 mL). Quantifiable concentrations of fecal coliform (FC) bacteria were reported in 1,693 samples, or 98.8 percent of 1,713 samples; concentrations in 780 samples (45.5 percent) exceeded the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania water contact criterion of 400 col/100 mL. Quantifiable concentrations of enterococci bacteria were reported in 912 samples, or 87.5 percent of 1,042 samples; concentrations in 483 samples (46.4 percent) exceeded the EPA recreational water-quality criterion of 61 col/100 mL. The median percentage of samples in which bacteria concentrations exceeded recreational water-quality standards across all sites with five or more samples was 48 for E. coli, 43 for FC, and 75 for enterococci. E. coli, FC, and enterococci concentrations at main-stem sites had significant positive correlations with streamflow under all weather conditions, with rho values ranging from 0.203 to 0.598. Seasonal Kendall and logistic regression were evaluated to determine whether statistically significant trends were present during the period 2001–09. In general, Seasonal Kendall tests for trends in E. coli and FC bacteria were inconclusive. Results of logistic regression showed no significant trends in dry-weather exceedance of the standards; however, significant decreases in the likelihood that wet-weather E. coli and FC bacteria concentrations will exceed EPA recreational standards were found at the USGS streamgaging station Allegheny River at 9th Street Bridge. Nonparametric correlation analysis, including Spearman’s rho and the paired Prentice-Wilcoxon test, was used to screen for associations among fecal indicator bacteria concentrations and the field characteristics streamflow, water temperature, pH, specific conductance, dissolved-oxygen concentration, and turbidity.

Suggested Citation

Fulton, J.W., Koerkle, E.H., McCoy, J.L., and Zarr, L.F., 2016, Occurrence and trends in the concentrations of fecal-indicator bacteria and the relation to field water-quality parameters in the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio Rivers and selected tributaries, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, 2001–09: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2015–5136, 47 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/sir20155136.

ISSN: 2328-0328 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Networks
  • Methods
  • Occurrence and Trends in Concentrations of Fecal-Indicator Bacteria in Streamflow
  • Summary and Conclusions
  • References Cited

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Occurrence and trends in the concentrations of fecal-indicator bacteria and the relation to field water-quality parameters in the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio Rivers and selected tributaries, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, 2001–09
Series title:
Scientific Investigations Report
Series number:
2015-5136
DOI:
10.3133/sir20155136
Year Published:
2016
Language:
English
Publisher:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Reston, VA
Contributing office(s):
Pennsylvania Water Science Center
Description:
ix, 47 p.
Country:
United States
State:
Pennsylvania
County:
Allegheny County
Other Geospatial:
Allengheny River, Monongahela River, Ohio River
Online Only (Y/N):
Y
Additional Online Files (Y/N):
N