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St. Joseph River Watershed Initiative

Place of Publication

Fort Wayne, IN


The Bacteria Source Tracking (BST) project was begun in 2001 and concluded in 2004. Antibiotic Resistance Analysis (ARA) was used in an attempt to determine the source of bacterial contamination in the St. Joseph River Watershed. The St. Joseph River is the largest tributary to the Maumee River system, which empties into Lake Erie at Toledo, Ohio. The St. Joseph River and several of its tributaries, including the largest, Cedar Creek, are on Indiana’s 303(d) list of impaired waters for E. coli. This research endeavor included development and refinement of a database particular to Northeast Indiana of known source patterns of resistance to antibiotics for humans, horses, beef and dairy cattle, deer, geese, hogs and domestic pets. Enterococci were extracted from water samples and tested against this database to determine sources of the contaminant. Results of the research indicates that wildlife, particularly geese, make a significant (greater than 50%) contribution to the bacterial pollution in this watershed. The human contribution of fecal contamination is localized to particular sub-watersheds and is generally low. Livestock (beef, dairy and swine) contribute little to the overall fecal pollution of the St. Joseph River watershed. Significant contribution is shown from horses; however there is some question whether there is interference with horse from another source of contribution. It is known that this possible interference does not come from human sources. The knowledge of land uses is an essential component of bacteria source tracking through the use of ARA.



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