Fecal indicator bacteria (FIB), such as E. coli
, are used to indicate the potential of fecal contamination in waterways. One known source of FIB in urbanized areas is the occurrence of combined sewer overflows (CSOs). To explore the impact of CSOs on local water quality and FIB presence, sampling was conducted during the summers of 2017–2019 of two cities, one with CSOs and one without, on the Mohawk River in upstate New York, USA. Sampling included in situ physiochemical parameters of pH, temperature, and dissolved oxygen and laboratory tests for E. coli
, nitrates, and total organic carbon (TOC). Correlations between parameters were explored using the Wilcoxon rank sum test and Spearman’s Rank correlation with and without considerations of site and city location. Overall, positive correlations between FIB and rainfall were identified in one city but were less significant in the other, suggesting a buffering of FIB concentrations likely due to inflow contributions from a reservoir. Samples collected downstream from an active CSO reached the detection limit of the FIB tests, demonstrating a 2-log or greater increase in FIB concentrations from dry weather conditions. The city with CSOs demonstrated greater FIB concentrations, which are likely a combination of greater urban runoff, CSOs, and the potential resuspension of sediment during high flow events. Due to the widespread presence of FIB in the region, future research includes utilizing microbial source tracking to identify the sources of contamination in the region.
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