Data Collection and Modeling of Enteric Pathogens, Fecal Indicators and Real-Time Environmental Data at Madison, WI

EPA Grant Number: R829339
Title: Data Collection and Modeling of Enteric Pathogens, Fecal Indicators and Real-Time Environmental Data at Madison, WI
Investigators: Schneider, Tommye , Corsi, Steve , Standridge, Jon H. , Sorsa, Kirsti K. , Hoffman, Rebecca M. , Hausbeck, John , Waschbusch, Rob
Current Investigators: Schneider, Tommye , Corsi, Steve , Standridge, Jon H. , Sorsa, Kirsti K. , Waschbusch, Rob
Institution: Madison Department of Public Health , Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene , United States Geological Survey [USGS]
Current Institution: Madison Department of Public Health , United States Geological Survey [USGS] , Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene
EPA Project Officer: Packard, Benjamin H
Project Period: October 1, 2001 through September 30, 2003
Project Amount: $352,000
RFA: Environmental Monitoring for Public Access and Community Tracking (EMPACT) (2001) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Environmental Statistics , Water , Aquatic Ecosystems , Air , Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration


The City of Madison Wisconsin contains three recreational lakes with over 20 miles of shoreline within the city limits. The lakes are heavily used for recreational activities including sail boating, power boating, wind surfing, water skiing, swimming, scuba diving, canoeing, kayaking, fishing and jet skiing. The citizens of Madison treasure the recreational value of the their lake resources. The Madison Department of Public Health (MDPH) has developed beach-closing criteria based on testing results, combined with physical observations at the beach sites. There is a concern that the criteria may not reflect the actual risk to swimmers since the occurrence of pathogenic microorganisms during periods of high indicator levels has never been determined. There is a need to gather data to bring clarity to this process through data based decision-making.


(1) Expansion of the current city beach monitoring program to include: a) use of improved indicators to index changes in the microbial quality of the beach water including sensitive gene probe technologies to discriminate between human and animal sources of fecal pollution; and b) development of a facile method for the detection of pathogenic E. coli 0157:H7 C. Application of sensitive tests for the detection of the pathogens Giardia, Cryptosporidia, and Salmonella. (2) Determination of the correlations between microbial indicator data, occurrence of pathogens, and meteorological, physical and water quality data collected by remote monitoring stations. (3) Consideration of mathematical constructs for modeling pathogen occurrence. (4) Development of innovative partnerships with community groups and agencies to facilitate dissemination of water quality data and beach closure decisions, including construction of a water quality World Wide Web database with dynamic query capacity for the public.


Three Madison beaches will be monitored. One beach monitoring station will be located near a storm water runoff outfall, one will be on a small shallow lake with a high density of recreational activity and one will be on a large lake with a reduced recreational activity. Automatic water quality monitoring and sampling equipment will be placed at each site to monitor water quality, meteorological, and physical parameters. This continuously monitored data will be updated on the web page each hour. City of Madison beach personnel will record swimmer and waterfowl activity. Indicator organism and pathogen samples will be collected three days per week during the swimming season (12 weeks) for two years. Custom-designed automated samplers will collect indicator organism and pathogen samples from six events at each beach during both summer sampling periods. These events may be defined as rainfall runoff events, high turbidity periods, periods of high user counts, periods of high waterfowl count, or other types of events. Monitoring results from the first summer will be used to focus event-sampling efforts during the second summer. The continuously monitored water quality data, meteorological data, physical data and indicator organism results will be used to develop a functional and highly original probability-based tool for real-time assessment of the risk of pathogen occurrence.

Expected Results:

Partners from City, State and Federal governments and the community will work together to focus on the issue of detecting and communicating health risks associated with swimming at Madison beaches. A database of indicator and pathogen occurrence will be created and used to systematically characterize the correlations between indicator microorganisms and origins of fecal contaminants (human vs. animal sources). This database will be massaged to provide a real time, easily accessible, state of the art water quality information network system.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 3 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

waterborne pathogens, beach water-quality, beach closure criteria, EMPACT, Giardia, Cryptosporidia, Salmonella, E. coli 0157:H7., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Geographic Area, Water, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, POLLUTANTS/TOXICS, Environmental Chemistry, Health Risk Assessment, State, Monitoring/Modeling, Environmental Monitoring, Ecological Risk Assessment, Recreational Water, Microorganisms, aquatic ecosystem, pathogens, recreational water monitoring, E. coli monitoring, lake access, bacteria, continuous measurement, E. coli, recreational beaches, continuous monitoring, recreational water quality, aquatic environments, fecal coliform, lakes, analytical chemistry, Wisconsin (WI), water quality, real time monitoring, ecological models, human health risk, enteric pathogens

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2002 Progress Report
  • Final Report