Fecal coliform bacteria a group of organisms

Graham Watt, Project Coordinator of the Kettle River Watershed Management Plan explains fecal coliform.

The Project Co-ordinator for the Kettle River Management Plan provides insight and advice as the planning process move ahead

In a recent column about sediment I noted that fecal coliform bacteria had been rising in the Kettle River at Midway. Some readers asked me to spell out what that means.

Fecal coliform bacteria are a large group of microscopic organisms which live in the intestines of warmblooded animals, including humans, cattle, and deer.

They also live in animals’ feces, or “crap”, and continue living for a time in soil, streams, lakes, or groundwater.

When water meets crap on the ground, its load of bacteria, viruses and parasites can be carried into streams and lakes or even into groundwater. Bacteria can thrive in the right conditions or be killed off by sunlight.

These bacteria are not necessarily agents of disease, but are measured because they indicate the possible presence of disease-carrying organisms. The deaths and illnesses in Walkerton, Ontario, were a tragic reminder of why we need to monitor and manage bacteria in water sources, in particular for deadly strains of E. coli.

Increasing fecal coliform bacteria could be due to livestock, failing septic systems, or poorly performing wastewater treatment plants. Other important sources include wildlife, pets, and stormwater runoff in urban areas.

Scientists measure fecal coliform bacteria by counting the number of bacterial colonies (colony forming units, or CFUs) per 100 ml of water. For water to be safe to drink without treatment there should be no colonies present, according to the BC Water Quality Guidelines.

Low levels (less than 10 CFU/100 ml) require disinfection, and greater numbers require higher levels of treatment. Other standards exist for recreation, shellfish harvesting, irrigation, cattle watering, and food processing.

We, as individuals and communities, can help prevent and manage “crap” in our waters by:

• Picking up after pets

• Watering and feeding cattle away from rivers, streams and wells

• Practice good manure management (composting, field application) and prevent buildup in wet areas

• Encouraging native trees and shrubs to grow around the edges of water bodies because they act as filters

• Placing and maintaining septic systems properly and according to regulations

• Placing and maintaining wells far from septic systems, flood waters, and agricultural runoff

• Testing water regularly

• Maintaining and updating sanitary and storm sewers in urban areas

The Stakeholder Advisory Group will be looking at these and other strategies for protecting water quality and managing risks to drinking water this fall – stay tuned to our website at http://kettleriver.ca.

Graham Watt is project co-ordinator of the Kettle River Watershed Management Plan, Regional District of Kootenay Boundary. Ask Watt watershed questions at plan@kettleriver.ca. Figures and footnotes are included online at http://kettleriver. ca – look for the link in the menu to “Kettle River Q&A.

 

Just Posted

Daycare for Indigenous children set for Grand Forks

It will offer 24 free spaces for Indigenous infants, toddlers and young children in the region

Boundary comes out to celebrate Greenwood

Founders Day celebrates Greenwood’s 122nd birthday

BCSS grads come home to celebrate 50 years

*Hairstyles and outfits may have changed since graduation

Boundary District Arts Council folds amid financial questions

The last board took over in November and could not find receipts for $8,000 in spending

Residents push Grand Forks council to support with flood buyouts

Staff estimate a $6.6 million difference between pre and post-flood value for Grand Forks buyouts

VIDEO: Missing teens named as suspects in three northern B.C. killings

Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky are wanted in the deaths of Lucas Fowler, Chynna Deese, unknown man

B.C. wine industry legend Harry McWatters dies

Among his accomplishments, McWatters founded the province’s first estate winery, Sumac Ridge Estate

Provincial health body refuses to release full findings of cancer triage system audit

Information and Privacy Commissioner asked to review redactions

Southern resident killer whale died of blunt trauma, likely from ship

J34 was found more than two years ago near Sechelt, but the necropsy findings have now been released

B.C. rail crossing death highlights risks for people in wheelchairs: watchdog

Transportation Safety Board points to ‘persistent risks faced by persons using assistive devices’

B.C. teens wanted in double homicide, suspicious death spotted in Manitoba

Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky were thought to have been seen in the Gillam area

Nelson’s net-zero ready house is a glimpse into B.C.’s future

One local builder set out to construct the province’s ideal energy efficient home

Memorial bench painted by Vancouver woman to stay in park for now

Park board to look at options for artistic enhancements on commemorative benches

VIDEO: Man found dead near B.C. teens’ truck could be linked to a double homicide

RCMP said they are looking for Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, of Port Alberni

Most Read