Date of Submission

Spring 2017

Academic Programs and Concentrations


Project Advisor 1

Amy Savage

Abstract/Artist's Statement

Safe and readily available water is important for the overall health of the public. Improved water supply, sanitation, and management of water resources act to boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and mitigate the spread of disease. Paved surfaces allow for organic matter in a given area to be picked up and carried away by runoff water, because they are impermeable. Furthermore, due to the lack of any type of filtration process, potentially pathogenic bacteria present in runoff water from these surfaces may be transported into our waterways. One commonly known pathogenic bacteria is Enterococci, also one of the many bacteria naturally found in the mammalian alimentary tract. By ingestion these bacteria have caused millions of human and animal infections annually. In addition to their ability to cause direct harm to their host, because they are shed in feces they are used as surrogates for waterborne pathogens and as indicators of fecal contamination in water quality testing. Understanding how runoff water from impermeable surfaces may act as a potential transport system for Enterococci present in the environment could change the way we think about water quality worldwide. However, reliable sampling strategies for detecting Enterococci on impermeable surfaces are severely lacking. In my study I focus on developing a sampling strategy for detecting Enterococcus from paved surfaces that does not require the collection of runoff water. More specifically, I concentrate on innovating commonly used methods for detecting Enterococci from water samples. I found that the optimization of USEPA Method 1600, also known as membrane filtration, in conjunction with mEI selective agar is best at identifying Enterococci collected from impermeable surfaces. I accomplished this by developing a method that would allow one to create artificial water samples from samples originally collected from paved surfaces. This innovative sample method for collecting Enterococci from impermeable surfaces is proven in my experiment to be reproducible despite: difference in sampling location, day of sampling, or varying conditions within a site that could affect detection of the bacteria (P-value >0.05). Further research aimed at developing methods for detecting Enterococci from impermeable surfaces can drastically change the way we approach strategies used to address water contamination. This sampling strategy can also be potentially used for the detection of other ubiquitous pathogenic bacteria that are typically found in runoff water. The ability to detect these bacteria more directly would 1) allow us to address potential sources of bacterial contamination before it affected nearby water sources and 2) reduce cost that may arise from the usage of

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