Quantification of fecal coliform inputs to aquatic systems through soil leaching

Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsGeorge, I, Anzil, A, Servais, P
JournalWater Research
Start Page611
Date Published02/2004
Mots-clésfecal coliforms, land use, rainfall, soil leaching, β-D-glucuronidase activity
In order to assess the fecal contamination of rivers in the Seine watershed through soil leaching, 78 small streams located in rural areas were sampled upstream from any wastewater outfall. Culturable fecal coliforms (FC) and β-D-glucuronidase activity (specific of Escherichia coli) were measured in the samples. Data showed a significant correlation between both estimates of fecal contamination. In the two different areas of the Seine river watershed investigated, most of the small streams were significantly contaminated by fecal bacteria. In general, the streams flowing through areas partly or fully covered with pastures were more contaminated than those flowing through forest and cultivated areas. Rainfall increased the suspended solid content of small streams as well as their fecal contamination, as an important fraction of FC was adsorbed on particles. Calculations showed that, at a large watershed scale, the input of FC in rivers through soil leaching was very low when compared to the input through the discharge of treated domestic wastewater but this could not be true at local scale.