Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis


School of Environment


Earth and Environmental Resources Management

First Advisor

Dwayne E. Porter


The Congaree National Park near Columbia, SC, is vulnerable to water quality pollution originating upstream and the Toms Creek watershed is one of the watersheds draining into the Park. Park managers are especially concerned about bacterial water quality to protect the health of visitors. The goals of this study were to assess the spatial and temporal variability in bacterial concentrations, and to identify sources, either human or animal in the Toms Creek watershed. We sampled the watershed at multiple sites on a monthly basis over a one year period and analyzed for Escherichia coli bacterium. We obtained historical fecal coliform concentration data at the primary regulatory site on Toms Creek from EPA's STOrage and RETrieval (STORET) data warehouse to analyze for seasonal variations. To distinguish between human and non human sources of bacteria, we screened the Toms Creek watershed for presence of optical brighteners using fluorometry.

We found significant spatial variation in the watershed and were able to identify one presumptive source, namely, septic systems.

We found strong seasonal variation in bacterial concentrations where fecal coliform concentrations were highest in the summer and the fall. Our fluorometric analysis to confirm the presumptive sources of septic systems was inconclusive. We plan to use molecular source tracking techniques to better understand bacterial sources of human, domestic animal and wildlife origin in the Toms Creek watershed.


© 2010, Aashka J. Patel