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Enteric Bacteria Monitoring

Enteric bacteria, simply put, are bacteria found in the gut. These bacteria are commonly present and generally harmless, originating from various sources such as agriculture, birds, and human-related factors primarily malfunctioning septic systems. As individuals who live near rivers or bodies of water, it is important to avoid an excessive presence of enteric bacteria (according to EPA guidelines) to ensure the safety of swimming and fishing activities in our waters.

Sponsored Monitoring & Methodology

In 2018 and 2019, LLA contracted Freshwater Solutions (FSA) for enteric bacteria water testing. Testing was done at 12 locations to assess the impact of a heavy rain event. Triplicate 50ml water samples were collected at lake inlet sites after a long dry period and again after the rain event. This sampling technique facilitated both overall testing and extraction of DNA samples for identifying the source of bacteria (human HF183, bovine, or goose enteric bacteria).

Freshwater Solutions Lime Lake sampling data
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Results

Caution is advised when interpreting this research. Sampling occurred on only one dry day and one day after rainfall. While the data show a significant increase in enteric bacteria after rain, more extensive analysis is needed with repeated rain events for conclusive results.

From this limited study, it is evident that enteric bacteria sharply increases after rain at lake inlets. These sites primarily measure input from streams, indicating that the measured values are influenced by streams rather than the lakes. Source tracking reveals low human contamination from these points, suggesting non-human sources as the main fecal contributors.

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Everyday Strategies to Improve Water Quality

  1. Take care of your septic system by conducting regular inspections to ensure proper functioning. Only pump it if necessary, as excessive pumping can disrupt the system's intended biological processes.
     

  2. Remember to clean up and properly dispose of your pet's waste to prevent it from entering the lake.
     

  3. Establish and maintain a shoreline buffer to discourage geese from congregating on the shore or lawn, as they can contribute to localized bacterial contamination.
     

  4. When swimming, avoid areas near inlets, especially after rain events, as they are associated with higher levels of enteric bacteria.
     

  5. Once again, embrace your role as a lake steward and actively contribute to its well-being.

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