An investigation of the seasonal and spatial occurrence of coliform bacteria in a distribution system

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Robinson, Jeffrey G.
Warnes, Carl E.
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Thesis (M.S.)
Department of Biology
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Bacteriological data from 1980 to 1991 were reviewed to determine whether coliform bacteria occurred seasonally and spatially within a midwestern city's distribution system. Coliform bacteria are used as microbiological indicator organisms to determine if a public water supply is safe for consumption. The public water_ distribution system examined had at least a twelve year history of the presence of coliform bacteria. Previous investigations have described the occurrence of the coliform bacteria as sporadic because there were no apparent patterns to their presence. An analysis of bacteriological data has not previously been performed to specifically detect seasonal and spatial occurrences of coliform bacteria.This study attempted to determine if seasonal or spatial patterns of coliform occurrences exist within the in the dominant coliform species. Data indicate that the highest percentage of coliform positive samples occurred in the summer, followed by fall, then winter, with spring having the lowest percentage of coliform positive samples. While Enterobacter cloacae was the dominant coliform species during the spring, summer and fall, Klebsiella oxytoca was the dominant coliform during the winter. Coliform occurrence throughout the distribution system was variable among the 43 sample sites. The percentage of positive samples from the various sites ranged from 0% to 10.5%. The five sites with the highest percentage of coliform positive samples were at the extremities of the distribution system. E. cloacae was dominant at 88% of the sites. K. oxytoca was dominant at 9% sites, which typically had a low percentage of coliform positive samples.