Title

Is Ellensburg water safe for recreation? An Analysis of Total Coliform Bacteria Levels in Wilson Creek

Document Type

Oral Presentation

Location

SURC Ballroom C/D

Start Date

15-5-2014

End Date

15-5-2014

Keywords

Coliform Wilson Creek

Abstract

The City of Ellensburg is steeped in agriculture and livestock grazing and the concern for potentially harmful microbial growth from animal and urban runoff represents an important local issue that sits at the crossroads of science, community health, politics and the rural lifestyle. This presentation is a subset of data concerning the fecal coliform levels in a creek that is a harbinger for local water health: Wilson Creek, which runs from rural farms north of the township, through town, and out into the Yakima River south of Ellensburg. High total coliform bacteria levels are associated with harmful pathogens that cause hepatitis, cholera, and gastrointestinal illnesses. Our central question was whether the fecal coliform levels of Ellensburg surface water are safe for recreational use (less than 10 colony forming unit per 1 ml). An upper, middle, and lower site on Wilson Creek were sampled over the course of six weeks including the closing of local irrigation canals and seasonal hay cutting. The null hypothesis stated there was no difference between TCB concentrations at the various sample sites while the alternative hypothesis stated that TCB levels will be present in higher concentrations as Wilson Creek exits Ellensburg. The results show fecal coliform levels in town over three times higher than water entering and exiting town along with in-town levels dangerously close to unsafe recreational levels. The research represents the beginning of a research partnership between undergraduates in BIOL 323 (Microbiology) and the City of Ellensburg.

This presentation received a College of the Sciences Best Poster Presentation Award for 2014.

Poster Number

23

Faculty Mentor(s)

Stryker, Gabrielle

Additional Mentoring Department

Biological Sciences

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May 15th, 8:30 AM May 15th, 11:00 AM

Is Ellensburg water safe for recreation? An Analysis of Total Coliform Bacteria Levels in Wilson Creek

SURC Ballroom C/D

The City of Ellensburg is steeped in agriculture and livestock grazing and the concern for potentially harmful microbial growth from animal and urban runoff represents an important local issue that sits at the crossroads of science, community health, politics and the rural lifestyle. This presentation is a subset of data concerning the fecal coliform levels in a creek that is a harbinger for local water health: Wilson Creek, which runs from rural farms north of the township, through town, and out into the Yakima River south of Ellensburg. High total coliform bacteria levels are associated with harmful pathogens that cause hepatitis, cholera, and gastrointestinal illnesses. Our central question was whether the fecal coliform levels of Ellensburg surface water are safe for recreational use (less than 10 colony forming unit per 1 ml). An upper, middle, and lower site on Wilson Creek were sampled over the course of six weeks including the closing of local irrigation canals and seasonal hay cutting. The null hypothesis stated there was no difference between TCB concentrations at the various sample sites while the alternative hypothesis stated that TCB levels will be present in higher concentrations as Wilson Creek exits Ellensburg. The results show fecal coliform levels in town over three times higher than water entering and exiting town along with in-town levels dangerously close to unsafe recreational levels. The research represents the beginning of a research partnership between undergraduates in BIOL 323 (Microbiology) and the City of Ellensburg.

This presentation received a College of the Sciences Best Poster Presentation Award for 2014.