Sewage contamination of a densely populated coral 'atoll' (Bermuda)

Ross Jones, R. Parsons, E. Watkinson, D. Kendell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Bermuda is a densely populated coral 'atoll' located on a seamount in the mid-Atlantic (Sargasso Sea). There is no national sewerage system and the similar to 20 x 10(6) L of sewage generated daily is disposed of via marine outfalls, cess pits/septic tanks underneath houses and through waste disposal (injection) wells. Gastrointestinal (GI) enterococci concentrations were measured in surface seawater samples collected monthly at multiple locations across the island over a 5-year period. According to the EU Bathing Water Directive microbial classification categories, 18 of the sites were in the 'excellent' category, four sites in the 'good', five sites were in the 'sufficient' and three sites in the 'poor' categories. One of the sites in the 'poor' category is beside a popular swimming beach. Between 20-30% of 58 sub tidal sediment samples collected from creeks, coves, bays, harbours and marinas in the Great Sound complex on the western side of Bermuda tested positive for the presence of the human specific bacterial biomarker Bacteroides (using culture-independent PCR-based methods) and for the faecal biomarker coprostanol (5 beta-cholestan-3-beta-ol, which ranged in concentration from <0.05-0.77 mg kg (-aEuro parts per thousand 1). There was a significant statistical correlation between these two independent techniques for faecal contamination identification. Overall the microbial water quality and sedimentary biomarker surveys suggest sewage contamination in Bermuda was quite low compared with other published studies; nevertheless, several sewage contamination hotpots exist, and these could be attributed to discharge of raw sewage from house boats, from nearby sewage outfalls and leakage from septic tanks/cess pits.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-324
JournalEnvironmental Monitoring and Assessment
Volume179
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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