Fecal Bacteria Management in Pacific Northwest Watersheds
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Fecal bacteria are one of the most common pollutants of urban waterways, and cause illness in humans and animals. Laboratory tests such as microbial source tracking (MST) are increasingly used to determine the sources of fecal bacteria. However, MST can be prohibitively expensive, which slows communities’ efforts to develop best management practices and reduce bacterial loads. In 2006, the EPA listed Amazon Creek in Eugene, Oregon as impaired by E. coli bacteria. This project examined whether the MST results from 25 previously studied basins in the region can inform Eugene’s environmental planners about the likely sources of fecal bacteria in the Creek. To compare already studied basins to the Amazon Creek Basin, this project used analyses of land use and impervious surfaces, estimates of domestic and wild animal densities, and expert information on sewage systems and unsheltered homeless people. The results from these interviews and comparisons are used to recommend specific management practices for water planners in the Eugene area and general practices for all environmental managers tasked with reducing fecal bacteria loads in urban waterways.