Project to Determine Sources of Fecal Contamination Funded

W.-T. Liu (Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at University of Illinois), W.R. Kelly (Illinois State Water Survey), and S.V. Panno (Illinois State Geological Survey) received funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Midwest Technology Assistance Center program for the project "Identification of Sources of Fecal Pollution of Karst Waters." The 1.5-year project will involve the testing and refining of a new molecular method to identify the sources of fecal contamination among humans, various types of livestock, and domestic animals. The scientists are using a method developed by Liu and others that uses the Bacteroides-Prevotella 16S rRNA gene as part of a molecular method termed hierarchical oligonucleotide primer extension (HOPE). The method is used to distinguish among the sources of fecal contamination from humans, cow, pigs and dogs in groundwater and surface water. This method was published by and others in early 2009 and was field tested by Liu, Kelly, and Panno using samples from springs in southwestern Illinois in late 2009. This newly funded effort will be conducted in wells in the Midwest that are known to have been contaminated by fecal bacteria.