Relative value of surrogate indicators for detecting pathogens in lakes and reservoirs

J.D. Brookes, Matthew Hipsey, M.D. Burch, R.H. Regel, L.G. Linden, C.M. Ferguson, Jason Antenucci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Citations (Scopus)


This study investigated the relative behavior of pathogens, fecal indicator organisms, and particles of varying size during transport through a reservoir following a storm event inflow in Myponga Reservoir, South Australia. During the inflow, samples were collected from the river and at various locations within the reservoir to determine the fate and transport of microroganisms as they progressed through the water body. Microbiological analysis included the indicator organisms Escherichia coli, enterococci, Clostridium perfringens, aerobic spores, and somatic coliphages, the protozoan pathogens Cryptosporidium spp. and Giardia spp., and the potential physical surrogates of pathogen contamination including particle size and turbidity. Of the microbial indicator groups, C. perfringens spores were the most highly correlated with Cryptosporidium spp. concentrations (Spearman Rho 0.58), closely followed by enterococci (Spearman Rho 0.57). Cryptosporidium spp. oocysts were predominantly associated with small sized particles (range of 14.3-27.7 mu m). All of the microbial indicator groups tested were associated with larger sized particle ranges (> 63.3 mu m) except C. perfringens spores which were associated with particles in the size range of 45.5-63.3 pm. Although indicators may rank correlate with Cryptosporidium spp., the variation in settling rates of different microorganisms has significant implications for the use of surrogates to estimate pathogen attenuation within reservoirs. For example, concentrations of Cryptosporidium spp. oocysts were reduced by a factor of 3 on reaching the dam wall, whereas enterococci were reduced by a factor of 10.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8614-8621
JournalEnvironmental Science & Technology
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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