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Water Resources Investigations 01-4018

Concentrations of Escherichia Coli in Streams in the Kankakee and Lower Wabash River Watersheds in Indiana, June–September 1999

By Cheryl A. Silcox, Bret A. Robinson, and Timothy C. Willoughby

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Water samples collected from 58 surface-water sites in the Kankakee and Lower Wabash River Watersheds from June through September 1999 were analyzed for concentrations of Escherichia coli bacteria. Each site was sampled five times in a 30-day period. Twenty-nine sites were sampled during June and July, and 29 different sites were sampled during August and September. A five-sample geometric mean of concentrations was computed for each site. Concentrations of Escherichia coli (E. coli) in 126 of the 289 samples exceeded the State of Indiana single-sample standard of 235 colonies per 100 milliliters for waters used for recreation. Concentrations in samples from 38 of the 58 sites exceeded the State of Indiana standard for a five-sample geometric mean of 125 colonies per 100 milliliters for waters used for recreation.

Ten of the 58 sites were at or near U.S. Geological Survey streamflow-gaging stations. Based on records from the streamflow-gaging stations, 18 percent of the samples collected at these sites were collected at streamflows above the median daily discharge for each station.

E.coli concentrations and turbidity measurements collected during 1999 were analyzed in concert with similar concentration and turbidity data collected in 1998 at streams within the Upper Wabash River Watershed in Indiana to investigate the relation between concentrations of bacteria and turbidity. The analysis indicated a statistically significant correlation between concentrations of E. coli and turbidity. If the turbidity was greater than 83 nephelometric turbidity units, the E. coli concentration always exceeded the single-sample standard. If, however, the turbidity was less than 83 nephelometric turbidity units, concentrations of E. coli were not always below the single-sample standard.

For additional information contact:
District Chief,
U.S. Geological Survey
5957 Lakeside Boulevard
Indianapolis, IN 46278

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Suggested citation:
Silcox, C.A., Robinson, B.A., and Willoughby, T.C., 2001, Concentrations of escherichia coli in streams in the Kankakee and Lower Wabash river watersheds in Indiana, June–September 1999: U.S. Geological Survey Water Resources Investigations Report 01-4018.

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