Spatiotemporal Variability Comparisons of Water Quality and Escherichia coli in an Oklahoma Stream
Author: Grant M. Graves and Jason R. Vogel,
Fecal indicator bacteria, Escherichia coli, for primary body contact recreation (PBCR) in Oklahoma waterbodies, is defined as the geometric mean of 10 samples from the recreation season, May 1 to September 30, with an impairment threshold of 126 colony forming units (cfu) per 100 mL. However, the water quality standards provide limited guidance on spatiotemporal and environmental factors that could influence samples collected and analyzed. In this study, two stream cross sections under baseflow conditions in a central Oklahoma urban perennial stream, Spring Creek, were densely sampled to investigate temporal and spatial variability of E. coli concentrations and water quality parameters across the stream channel. Water quality parameters (specific conductivity, temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, turbidity, and total suspended solids (TSS)), stream discharge, and bacteria samples were collected simultaneously at equal intervals across the two cross sections in the morning and afternoon during one summer day with sunny, dry, and hot weather conditions. Results indicate a significant difference between time-of-day samples and water quality parameters and E. coli concentrations. Strong correlations between temperature, dissolved oxygen, and time versus E. coli concentrations were observed, while location, turbidity, and TSS were not significant or correlated to measured values. Furthermore, E. coli concentrations were highly variable spatially across each stream cross section, regardless of time of day or location. Results from this study provide an initial indication that stream water quality, spatial cross section sample location, and diurnal variations may be influencing factors on bacteria concentrations.
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