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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(3), 306; doi:10.3390/ijerph14030306

Microbial Remobilisation on Riverbed Sediment Disturbance in Experimental Flumes and a Human-Impacted River: Implication for Water Resource Management and Public Health in Developing Sub-Saharan African Countries

1
Departments of Biotechnology, Vaal university of Technology, Private Bag X021, Andries Potgieter Blvd, Vanderbijlpark 1911, South Africa
2
School of Civil & Environmental Engineering, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg 2050, South Africa
3
Natural Resources and the Environment, CSIR, P.O. Box 395, Pretoria 0001, South Africa
4
Department of Environmental, Water and Earth Science, Tshwane University of Technology, Arcadia Campus, 175 Nelson Mandela Drive, Pretoria 0001, South Africa
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 20 January 2017 / Revised: 9 March 2017 / Accepted: 10 March 2017 / Published: 15 March 2017
(This article belongs to the Section Environmental Health)
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Abstract

Resuspension of sediment-borne microorganisms (including pathogens) into the water column could increase the health risk for those using river water for different purposes. In the present work, we (1) investigated the effect of sediment disturbance on microbial resuspension from riverbed sediments in laboratory flow-chambers and in the Apies River, Gauteng, South Africa; and (2) estimated flow conditions for sediment-borne microorganism entrainment/resuspension in the river. For mechanical disturbance, the top 2 cm of the sediment in flow-chambers was manually stirred. Simulating sudden discharge into the river, water (3 L) was poured within 30 s into the chambers at a 45° angle to the chamber width. In the field, sediment was disturbed by raking the riverbed and by cows crossing in the river. Water samples before and after sediment disturbance were analysed for Escherichia coli. Sediment disturbance caused an increase in water E. coli counts by up to 7.9–35.8 times original values. Using Shields criterion, river-flow of 0.15–0.69 m3/s could cause bed particle entrainment; while ~1.57–7.23 m3/s would cause resuspension. Thus, sediment disturbance in the Apies River would resuspend E. coli (and pathogens), with possible negative health implications for communities using such water. Therefore, monitoring surface water bodies should include microbial sediment quality. View Full-Text
Keywords: Escherichia coli; sediment microbial quality; riverbed sediment disturbance; sediment resuspension; public health risk; water resource management; alternative water sources; water resources monitoring Escherichia coli; sediment microbial quality; riverbed sediment disturbance; sediment resuspension; public health risk; water resource management; alternative water sources; water resources monitoring
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Abia, A.L.K.; James, C.; Ubomba-Jaswa, E.; Benteke Momba, M.N. Microbial Remobilisation on Riverbed Sediment Disturbance in Experimental Flumes and a Human-Impacted River: Implication for Water Resource Management and Public Health in Developing Sub-Saharan African Countries. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14, 306.

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