Fecal indicator bacteria on plants in the Fall Kill Creek

Joelle A. Weir, Chloe Rosa, Anointing Akpojetavwo

Vol.1, Issue 2, p 34-40 (2019)


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ABSTRACT: The Fall Kill Creek is a tributary of the Hudson River. The Creek is a source of food and a habitat for a variety of animals and other organisms and is used in the community for recreational purposes like fishing and wading. FIB (Fecal Indicator Bacteria), including E. coli and Enterococci, are commonly used to determine water quality. Fall Kill Creek FIB concentrations indicate that there is fecal matter produced from sources such as storm water runoff, septic tanks, and animals within the creek watershed. When Enterococcus levels in the water are equal or greater than 60 MPN (Most Probable Number) / 100 mL, it is considered unsafe for human exposure due to coliforms which indicate a possible presence of disease-causing bacteria.¹ We hypothesize that when plants in streams are disturbed by human activities; biofilms on plants could be dislodged releasing FIB into the water. If plants are contributing to increased FIB levels, this will directly correlate to increased risk of disease from waterborne pathogens.² We measured FIB at several sites to test the dependence of FIB on site location, types of plants present, and amount of FIB on the plants. Our results suggest that none of these parameters predict FIB: specifically, there are no differences in numbers of FIB on the different types of plants, there are no differences in numbers of FIB at the different sites, there is no interaction between plant type and site with respect to numbers of FIB, there is no correlation between the amount of FIB on the plants and their concentration in the water. Further research is encouraged, and we advise that subsequent studies might include investigating FIB in sediment to find correlations with the plants. With more time we would also include more plants or sites in the study. The remediation of the Fall Kill Creek has the potential to create a cleaner Hudson River, especially since tributaries often act as a source of pollution. According to the Riverkeeper Annual Water Quality Report, “61% of Riverkeeper’s 74 sampling locations in the Hudson River Estuary fail EPA criteria for recreational water.”³ This information is vital for the community and people monitoring the stream quality.
KEYWORDS: Environmental Research; FIB (Fecal Indicator Bacteria); Fall Kill Creek; Hudson River; E. Coli; Enterococcus; Aquatic plants; Biofilm