Characterizing Microbial Contaminants Flowing into Taylor’s Creek, North Carolina Public Deposited

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Last Modified
  • May 14, 2019
  • Fisher, Kinsey
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Curriculum in Environment and Ecology, Environmental Science
  • Increasing concentrations of fecal indicator bacteria (FIB) have been linked to gastrointestinal diseases and other illnesses. Concentrations of FIB are increased in recreational waters following heavy rainfall events due to sources of fecal contamination stemming from the land such as septic systems, failing wastewater infrastructure, and pet and wildlife feces. This fecal contamination is conveyed to the receiving water system through stormwater pipes that can discharge the material into recreational waters. This study aims to characterize FIB concentrations in Taylor’s Creek, North Carolina as well as their association to heavy rainfall and the stormwater systems along The Town of Beaufort (ToB). The main focus of this study has been to investigate microbial contamination away from the larger, more prominent outfall pipes which are already being studied. FIB concentrations were characterized through three main sampling methods: grab sampling from Taylor’s creek, water and sediment sampling from manholes across ToB, and plume transect grab samples from various outfall pipes along Taylor’s Creek. FIB concentrations exceeded recreational water quality standards on multiple occasions during both wet and dry weather from water samples taken along Taylor’s Creek. During wet weather, Enterococcus spp. concentrations in Taylor’s Creek ranged from 5 to 624.4 MPN/100 mL, and E. coli concentrations ranged from non-detect to >6,600 MPN/100mL. In addition, samples from inside of the manholes along The ToB stormwater system contained high concentrations of FIB as well as indications of tidal intrusion, possibly resulting in corrosion of the stormwater systems over time. FIB concentrations decreased with increasing distance from outfall pipes during plume transect sampling and were positively correlated with nutrient concentrations. Taylor’s Creek seems to be impacted by discharge even away from noted stormwater outfall pipes, and high concentrations of FIB exist in the stormwater drainage system during dry weather, likely contributing to water quality impairment along Taylor’s Creek.
Date of publication
Resource type
  • Noble, Rachel
  • Bachelor of Science
Academic concentration
  • Environmental Science
Honors level
  • Honors
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Graduation year
  • 2019
  • English

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