Development and utilization of procedures to monitor E. coli in constructed wetlands

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Texas Tech University

Wastewater treatment is a concern that becomes increasingly important each passing year with increases in the size and level of industrialization of the world's population. Scientists have realized the same microbiological processes involved in the industrialized process of wastewater treatment occur naturally in wetlands. Constructed wetlands offer enormous potential as an alternative method for treating wastewater. This wastewater poses a potentially serious health threat because of pathogenic microorganisms commonly found in such water. For scientist and engineers to learn to utilize constructed wetlands to their full potential, effective methods to monitor the water for the potential presence of pathogenic microbiological organisms are needed. Traditional methods for this purpose have shortcomings that inhibit the monitoring process. The development of effective new procedures for this purpose would be a benefit to public health. This research develops a technique to track levels of E. coli through a constructed wetland. Various media were screened to find which was most effective, and proper culture conditions had to be determined. These finding made it possible to use an automated approach to monitor E. coli levels in a constructed wetland. Levels of E. coli were monitored because this organism is best suited to indicate the potential presence of pathogens. In addition, E. coli is an emerging pathogen that is an important concern to public health.

Constructed wetlands, Escherichia coli, Water quality management