Sources of microbial contamination in the watershed and coastal zone of Soufriere, St. Lucia Journal Articles uri icon

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  • The Sustainable Development Goal 6 calls for global progress by 2030 in treating domestic wastewater and providing access to adequate sanitation facilities. However, meeting these goals will be a challenge for most Small Island Developing States, including Caribbean island nations. In the┬ánearshore zone of the Soufriere region on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia, there is a history of high levels of bacteria of fecal origin. Possible land-based sources of microbial contamination in the Soufriere Bay include discharges from the Soufriere River and transport of wastewater, including fecal material from the town of Soufriere. This area is an important tourist destination and supports a local fishery. To identify the sources of microbial contamination in Soufriere Bay, a range of monitoring methods were employed in this study. In grab samples of surface water collected from the Soufriere River, counts of total coliforms and Escherichia coli were elevated above water quality guidelines. However, the spikes in concentrations of these indicator organisms in the river did not necessarily coincide with the spikes in the levels of total coliforms and E. coli detected in samples collected on the same dates in Soufriere Bay, indicating that there are other sources of pollution in the Bay besides discharges from the river. Monitoring for chemical indicators of wastewater (i.e., caffeine, sucralose, fluconazole) in the Soufriere River indicated that there are inputs of sewage or human fecal material throughout the watershed. However, analysis of Bacteroidales 16S rRNA genetic markers for fecal bacteria originating from humans, bovine ruminants, or other warm-blooded animals indicated that the majority of microbial contamination in the river was not from humans. Monitoring for chemical indicators of wastewater using passive samplers deployed in Soufriere Bay indicated that there are two "hot spots" of contamination located offshore of economically depressed areas of the town of Soufriere. This study indicates that efforts to control contamination of Soufriere Bay by fecal microorganisms must include management of pollution originating from both sewage and domestic animals in the watershed.


  • Serville-Tertullien, Marsha
  • Charlemagne, Kareem
  • Eristhee, Newton
  • McDermott, Kevin
  • Majury, Anna
  • Schirmer, Timo
  • Sultana, Tamanna
  • Metcalfe, Chris D

publication date

  • March 2022