Date of Award

1-1-2011

Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Department

Environmental Health Sciences

First Advisor

Dwayne Porter

Second Advisor

Robin Kloot

Abstract

Richland County, South Carolina, has many watersheds appearing on the EPA's 303(d) list, including the Gills Creek watershed. This study interprets current water quality data within the Gills Creek watershed through the use of intensive target stream sampling for Escherichia coli (E. coli) as well as fluorometric optical brightener analysis to screen for contamination from human wastewater, determine if there are significant relationships between fluorescent decay signals and E. coli contamination, and examine fluorescent decay protocol applicability to blackwater systems.

Escherichia coli concentrations within the Gills Creek watershed could be attributed to industrialization around sampling sites, dilution, bacterial settling into lakes and ponds, and precipitation. Optical brightener signals varied greatly among sites and sample dates and showed little influence by environmental factors. Ultimately no association was detected between bacterial concentrations and optical brighteners.

Fluorometric analysis of three streams in Richland County indicated that there was no significant difference in the amount of fluorometric interference from organic material in blackwater and clearwater streams. However, the high concentration of detergent solutions used may have prevented an accurate interference signal.

Cao et al. (2009) suggested the modified protocol could be used in the in the field as well as in the laboratory, however, the extended time required to complete the protocol may be a deterrent to many. These analyses demonstrated the ability of a shorter duration UV exposure to capture optical brightener fluorescence, allowing a laboratory or field test of a few seconds rather than minutes.

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