Dynamic Existence of Waterborne Pathogens within River Sediment Compartments. Implications for Water Quality Regulatory Affairs Journal Articles uri icon

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  • The transport and fate of indicator E. coli and Salmonella are shown to be highly influenced by their relationship with flocculated suspended and bed sediment particles. Flocs were found to dominate the suspended sediment load and have the effect of increasing the downward flux of the sediment to the river bed. Bacteria counts were consistently higher within sediment compartments (suspended and bed) than for the water alone, with the bed sediment found to represent a possible reservoir of pathogens for subsequent remobilization and transport to potentially high risk areas. The mechanism of microbial attachment and entrapment within the sediment was strongly linked to the EPS fibrils secreted by the biological consortium of the aquatic system. It is suggested that the sediment/pathogen relationship should be of concern to public health officials because of its potential effects on pathogen source fate and effect with implications on public health risk assessment. Current standard sampling strategies, however, are based on an assumption that bacteria are entirely planktonic and do not account for the potentially significant concentration of bacteria from the sediment compartments. The lack of understanding around pathogen/sediment associations may lead to an inaccurate estimate of public health risk, and, as such, possible modification of sampling strategies to reflect this association may be warranted.


  • Droppo, Ian
  • Liss, Steven N
  • Williams, Declan
  • Nelson, Tara
  • Jaskot, Chris
  • Trapp, Brian

publication date

  • March 15, 2009