American Water Resources Association

Increasing occurrence of high fecal indicator bacteria in headwater streams within the lower Delaware River Watershed

  • 10 May 2017
  • 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM
  • One Parkway Building, 1515 Arch Street, 18th Floor Planning Commission Conference Room, Philadelphia, PA
  • 34


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Increasing occurrence of high fecal indicator bacteria (FIB) in headwater streams within the lower Delaware River Watershed


Jinjun Kan, PhD

Leading Scientist for Microbiology Division at Stroud Water Research Center



According to United States’ Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), bacteria and pathogen contamination has been ranked as the leading cause for impaired and threatened waters nationwide including streams in the Delaware River Watershed. Historic bacteria samples from the lower Delaware River Basin have primarily been collected from larger streams at the base of contributing sub-watersheds. As a result, there is little information on the status of bacterial contamination in headwater streams in this region. Headwaters constitute more than three quarters of the stream length in these watersheds and significantly influence water quantity and quality (physical, chemical and biological).  In this study, we monitored fecal indicator bacteria (FIB) including total coliform, E. coli and Enterococci at 46 upstream sites across Delaware River Watershed, including the White Clay Creek, Red Clay Creek, Brandywine Creek, and the Schuylkill River. These data indicated an increasing occurrence of high FIB in the watershed. The concentrations of total coliform, E. coli and Enterococci were significantly higher than the EPA standards, suggesting a rising public health threat, a potential risk for surface-fed drinking water suppliers, and a challenge for watershed managers. Relationships between concentrations of FIB and landuses and other stream and watershed physical factors (e.g., watershed size, population density, location of known point sources) are also explored and discussed. Finally, molecular source tracking methods were used to identify the possible sources for FIB contamination, and our results indicated that headwaters are more susceptible to local landuses, and the bacterial contaminations are likely related to agriculture, urbanization, mushroom operations, and wildlife.     


Speaker Bio: 


Dr. Jinjun Kan, Leading Scientist for Microbiology Division at Stroud Water Research Center. Jinjun got his Bachelor degree of Environmental Sciences from Ocean University of China and his Ph. D from Univ. of Maryland College Park. He did his postdoc at Univ. of Southern California before joining Stroud Water Research Center as a faculty member. His research interests are molecular microbial ecology of aquatic ecosystems, particularly freshwater and estuaries, with focus on bacterial population dynamics, fecal indicator bacteria monitoring, and their interactions with local environments, including trophic interactions, nutrient cycling, and biogeochemistry. 




This seminar does qualify for 1.0 Professional Development Hour (PDH). A Certificate of Attendance will be available on site for AWRA-PMAS members only. The meeting price for non-members who wish to receive a Certificate of Attendance for the PDH is $10.00 ($3.00 for meeting + $7.00 for certificate). 


Please note: all lunch orders will close by noon on the day before the presentation. In addition, all lunch orders will need to be paid for online by this time. We are unable to refund the cost of lunch or meeting fees because they are paid ahead of time based on number of registrations.

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