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Open AccessArticle

Spatial Variability of Escherichia coli in Rivers of Northern Coastal Ecuador

Department of Environmental Health, Emory University, 1518 Clifton Rd, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA
Department of Epidemiology, University of Michigan, M5065 SPH II, 1415 Washington Heights, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2029, USA
Department of Epidemiology, Emory University, 1518 Clifton Rd, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA
Centro de Biomedicina, Universidad Central del Ecuador, Carrera de Medicina Sodiro N14-121 e Iquique, Quito, Ecuador
Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Diego de Robles y Vía Interoceánica, Quito 170157, Ecuador
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Marc Henry
Water 2015, 7(2), 818-832;
Received: 21 November 2014 / Accepted: 30 January 2015 / Published: 13 February 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Treatment and Human Health)
The use of contaminated surface water continues to be a pressing issue in areas of the world where people lack improved drinking water sources. In northern coastal Ecuador, many communities rely on untreated surface water as their primary source of drinking water. We undertook a study to explore how microscale river hydrodynamics affect microbial water quality at community water collection locations at three rivers with varying stream velocity and turbidity profiles. To examine how the distance from river shore and physiochemical water quality variables affect microbial contamination levels in the rivers; we collected a total of 355 water samples within six villages on three rivers; and tested for Escherichia coli concentrations using the IDEXX Quanti-tray method. We found that log10 E. coli concentrations decreased with increasing distance from shore (β = −0.017; p = 0.003). Water in the main channel had E. coli concentrations on average 0.12 log10 lower than within eddies along the river shore and 0.27 log10 lower between the sample closest to shore and any sample >6 m from the shore. Higher E. coli concentrations were also significantly associated with increased turbidity (β = 0.003; p < 0.0001) and decreased dissolved oxygen levels (β = −0.310; p < 0.0001). The results of this study can help inform community members about the safest locations to collect drinking water and also provide information on watershed scale transport of microbial contaminants between villages. View Full-Text
Keywords: water quality; Escherichia coli; hydrodynamics; Ecuador water quality; Escherichia coli; hydrodynamics; Ecuador
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Rao, G.; Eisenberg, J.N.S.; Kleinbaum, D.G.; Cevallos, W.; Trueba, G.; Levy, K. Spatial Variability of Escherichia coli in Rivers of Northern Coastal Ecuador. Water 2015, 7, 818-832.

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