2002 Progress Report: 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 , Sorsa, Kirsti K. , Standridge, Jon H. , Waschbusch, Rob
Institution: Madison Department of Public Health , United States Geological Survey [USGS] , Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene
EPA Project Officer: Hiscock, Michael
Project Period: October 1, 2001 through September 30, 2003
Project Period Covered by this Report: October 1, 2001 through September 30, 2002
Project Amount: $352,000
RFA: Environmental Monitoring for Public Access and Community Tracking (EMPACT) (2001) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Environmental Statistics , Water , Ecosystems , Air , Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration


The main objectives of this research project are to:

· Detect and communicate health risks associated with swimming at Madison beaches.

· Create a large database of indicator and pathogen occurrence at the beaches serving a major population center in the Northern Midwest. The data being collected are being loaded into both Progress and Oracle databases. The continuously monitored data are made available within an hour of collection and we are currently working on making the microbial indicator and pathogen data available on the Web.

· Determine correlations between traditional indicator microorganisms and origins of fecal contaminants (human versus animal sources). Data for this effort are being collected. These data will be used to develop these correlations.

· Evaluate and implement a new sensitive analytical method for detecting Escherichia coli 0157:H7 in recreational waters. The method has been evaluated, modified, and was in use last summer and will be used again next summer.

· Construct a probabilistic model based on the actual risk of pathogen occurrence linked with indicator testing data to determine beach-closing parameters. At the end of the project and after the correlations are established, an attempt will be made to use them in a beach-closure model that is more timely and relevant than the current beach-closure criteria.

· Provide real-time, user-friendly, and state-of-the-art water-quality information to the public. This information will include public education regarding recreational water-quality issues. The continuously monitored data are made available within an hour of collection and we currently are working on making the microbial indicator and pathogen data available on the Web. Additional pages educate and explain the significance of the collected data to the public.

Progress Summary:

To accomplish the beach-monitoring objectives, the team has implemented a multiphase monitoring program, including continuous, fixed interval and specific event monitoring. During the first year of the EMPACT study, beach testing was performed during the swimming season starting at the end of May 2002, and ending after Labor Day (September 2002).

Continuous Monitoring

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) installed a monitoring station at each of the three beach sites. Each station was outfitted with equipment to continuously measure and record air temperature, precipitation, water temperature, turbidity, conductance, pH, dissolved oxygen and chlorophyll content, wave height, and water level. A single monitoring site was established to measure wind speed and direction; these data will be applied to all of the beach sites.

Fixed-Interval Monitoring

The sample interval differed between organisms. Madison Department of Public Health (MDPH) personnel collected samples for indicator organisms five times per week (weekdays) and three weekends during the swimming season. E. coli O157:H7 and coliphage samples were collected three times per week, and Cryptosporidium, Giardia, and Salmonella once per week using beach sampling standard operating protocol. Field personnel also measured water temperature and made field observations such as the presence of weeds and algae, waterfowl, bird excrements, or other animals as well as the number of people at the beach. Additionally, Madison lifeguards monitored bather loads and bird populations.

Event Monitoring

Automatic samplers at each site were modified specifically for microbial sample collection and were programmed to collect samples based on environmental conditions. Three event collections were conducted at Spring Harbor and Vilas Park. Four event collections were conducted at Olbrich Park.

Test Methods for Pathogens and Indicator Microorganisms.

Pathogens. A sensitive method for detecting E. coli O157:H7 has been developed and implemented. Multiple spikes into complex lake water samples confirmed the sensitivity of the assay down to 10 organisms/500 mL.

We established field-validated assays as described in the 20th edition of Standard Methods for the Examination of Water and Wastewater (APHA, 1998). Cryptosporidia and Giardia are enumerated at the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene (WSLH) using the performance-based U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Method 1623 with polycarbonate track-etched filtration, centrifuge concentration, immunomagnetic separation, and microscopic immunofluorescence detection with confirmation by 4',6-diamidino-2-phenylindole (DAPI) staining and differential interference contrast.

Initially, EPA Method 1601 for the presence/absence detection of male-specific coliphage was used. This method proved to be unacceptable for archiving the isolated coliphage strains for subsequent genotyping or serotyping. Consequently, WSLH switched to the performance-based EPA Method 1602 for male-specific coliphage for the remaining samples. These coliphage isolates were sent to the University of North Carolina for serotyping of the plaques to distinguish between human and animal fecal contamination sources.

Indicator Bacteria. Microbial indicator organisms are tested using a variety of methods. Fecal-coliform testing is included to provide a link to the previous testing at the Madison beaches. The MDPH laboratory performs the membrane filter fecal coliform count (MFFCC) using the procedure outlined in Standard Methods for the Examination of Water and Wastewater (American Public Health Association, 1998). A commercial, enzyme-based Colilert Quanti-tray™ (IDEXX) assay is used for determining E. coli counts. The Colilert test was chosen because of its demonstrated superiority for detecting stressed organisms at both the WSLH and MDPH laboratories. Enterococci counts were determined using the EnterolertTM test system.

Public Access to Project Data

Data management and dissemination to the public are comprehensive team efforts. The primary method of communicating with the public is by using Web pages (detailed in the "Relevant Web Pages" section), but beach information also is disseminated to the public using a multimedia approach. Beach water-quality information is distributed for announcements by radio and TV stations, newspapers, and onsite signs. A telephone hotline of current beach conditions or other inquiries is made available to the public. Information also is provided to the Friends of Lake Wingra and University Extension Environmental Health Office for public outreach activities.

If a beach is considered unsafe and closed for swimming, signs in both English and Spanish are posted at the beach. Beach closing information from all City of Madison beaches and two University of Wisconsin beaches on Lake Mendota are incorporated into the City of Madison Web page for a more comprehensive approach to recreational water information on Madison lakes.

Future Activities:

Correlations between microbial indicator data; occurrence of pathogens; and meteorological, physical, and water-quality data collected by remote monitoring stations will be determined and a probabilistic model will be constructed for predicting a health risk from pathogen occurrence. The resulting data should help define beach conditions, improve tools to identify early indicators of health risks from pathogenic organisms, and make timely beach information available to the public through data-based criteria.

FOLW plans to use a portion of the EMPACT funds in 2003 to develop a bilingual (English?Spanish) kiosk for placement at Vilas Beach. The kiosk information will be tailored to meet the outreach goals of the EMPACT project, and will become a permanent fixture at the beach.

Journal Articles:

No journal articles submitted with this report: View all 3 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

pathogens, beach monitoring, real-time environmental data, water quality, Wisconsin, WI, EPA Region 5., 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

Relevant Websites:

http://wi.waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv/?site_no=430329089244500&PARAmeter_cd=00010,00300,00095 Exit
http://wi.waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv/?site_no=430458089280900&PARAmeter_cd=00010,00300,00095 Exit
http://wi.waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv/?site_no=430516089195000&PARAmeter_cd=00010,00300,00095 Exit
http://www.ci.madison.wi.us/health/envhealth/beaches.html Exit
http://danenet.org/fowingra/ Exit

Progress and Final Reports:

Original Abstract
  • Final Report