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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract -

Survival and Movement of Fecal Indicator Bacteria in Soil under Conditions of Saturated Flow1


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 7 No. 1, p. 55-59
    Received: Apr 11, 1977

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  1. C. Hagedorn,
  2. D. T. Hansen and
  3. G. H. Simonson2



Antibiotic-resistant fecal bacteria were used to monitor the degree of movement and subsequent ground water contamination by septic-tank effluent discharged into a drainfield under saturated conditions. Two pits of different depths were constructed to simulate drainfield beds, and ground water samples were removed during 32-day sampling intervals from sampling wells installed at set distances from each inoculation pit. The bacteria added to the deep pit were released into a B2t horizon which contained a higher clay content than the A horizon in which the shallower pit was installed. Streptomycin-resistant strains of Escherichia coli and Streptococcus faecalis amended to each pit site moved in a directional manner, required more time to reach sampling wells when inoculated into the deeper of the two pits, and moved relatively long distances when considering that the area where the sites were located had only a 2% slope. Bacterial numbers peaked in the sampling wells in association with major rainfall patterns and the populations required longer periods to peak in the wells furthest from the inoculation pits. The results indicated that antibiotic-resistant bacteria eliminated the problem of differentiating between the amended bacteria and those nonresistant strains already in the soil, and the potential is excellent for including this type of microbiological procedure for assessing the suitability of a soil site for septic-tank and waste water drainfield installations.

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