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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 30 No. 5, p. 1533-1539
    Received: Dec 13, 2000

    * Corresponding author(s): jentry@kimberly.ars.pn.usbr.gov


Movement of Coliform Bacteria and Nutrients in Ground Water Flowing through Basalt and Sand Aquifers

  1. James A. Entry *a and
  2. Neal Farmerb
  1. a USDA-ARS, Northwest Irrigation and Soils Research Lab., 3793 North 3600 East, Kimberly, ID 83443
    b USDI National Park Service, Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument, 221 State Street, P.O. Box 570, Hagerman, ID 83332


Large-scale deposition of animal manure can result in contamination of surface and ground water and in potential transfer of disease-causing enteric bacteria to animals or humans. We measured total coliform bacteria (TC), fecal coliform bacteria (FC), NO3, NH4, total P, and PO4 in ground water flowing from basalt and sand aquifers, in wells into basalt and sand aquifers, in irrigation water, and in river water. Samples were collected monthly for 1 yr. Total coliform and FC numbers were always higher in irrigation water than in ground water, indicating that soil and sediment filtered most of these bacteria before they entered the aquifers. Total coliform and FC numbers in ground water were generally higher in the faster flowing basalt aquifer than in the sand aquifer, indicating that the slower flow and finer grain size may filter more TC and FC bacteria from water. At least one coliform bacterium/100 mL of water was found in ground water from both basalt and sand aquifers, indicating that ground water pumped from these aquifers is not necessarily safe for human consumption according to the American Public Health Association and the USEPA. The NO3 concentrations were usually higher in water flowing from the sand aquifer than in water flowing from the basalt aquifer or in perched water tables in the basalt aquifer. The PO4 concentrations were usually higher in water flowing from the basalt aquifer than in water flowing from the sand aquifer. The main concern is fecal contamination of these aquifers and health consequences that may arise from human consumption.

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Copyright © 2001. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science SocietyPublished in J. Environ. Qual.30:1533–1539.