Integrating culture and molecular quantification of microbial contaminants into a predictive modeling framework in a low-lying, tidally-influenced coastal watershed
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Integrating culture and molecular quantification of microbial contaminants into a predictive modeling framework in a low-lying, tidally-influenced coastal watershed

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  • Journal Title:
    Science of The Total Environment
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    Examinations of stormwater delivery in the context of tidal inundation are lacking. Along the coastal plains of the southeastern United States, tidal inundation is increasing in frequency and severity, often with dramatic adverse impacts on timely stormwater discharge, coastal flooding hazards, and even “sunny day flooding”. Therefore, a comprehensive study was conducted to examine tidally-influenced stormwater outfalls discharging to Taylor's Creek, an estuary proximal to Beaufort, NC used regularly for recreation and tourism. Over a wide range of meteorological conditions, water samples were collected and analyzed for fecal indicator bacteria (FIB, used for water quality management) and previously published quantitative microbial source tracking (qMST) markers. Nineteen sampling events were conducted from July 2017–June 2018 with samples classified according to tidal state and defined as either inundated, receding, or transition. A first-of-its-kind multiple linear regression model was developed to predict concentrations of Enterococcus sp. by tidal cycle, salinity and antecedent rainfall. We demonstrated that the majority of variability associated with the concentration of Enterococcus sp. could be predicted by E. coli concentration and tidal phase. FIB concentrations were significantly (<0.05) influenced by tide with higher concentrations observed in samples collected during receding (low) tides (EC: log 3.12 MPN/100 mL; ENT: 2.67 MPN/100 mL) compared to those collected during inundated (high) (EC: log 2.62 MPN/100 mL; ENT: 2.11 MPN/100 mL) or transition (EC: log 2.74 MPN/100 mL; ENT: 2.53 MPN/100 mL) tidal periods. Salinity, was also found to significantly (<0.05) correlate with Enterococcus sp. concentrations during inundated (high) tidal conditions (sal: 17 ppt; ENT: 2.04 MPN/100 mL). Tide, not precipitation, was shown to be a significant driver in explaining the variability in Enterococcus sp. concentrations. Precipitation has previously been shown to be a driver of Enterococcus sp. concentrations, but our project demonstrates the need for tidal parameters to be included in the future development of water quality monitoring programs.
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    Science of The Total Environment, 792, 148232
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    Accepted Manuscript
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