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Environmental Monitoring | Water Resource Management


Joseph Storlien, Environmental Studies; Jean Lavigne, Environmental Studies; William Lamberts, Biology


Water quality indicator organisms such as E. coli are used in the monitoring of recreational waterbodies to indicate the presence of fecal contamination. In 2009, a 1.5-mile stretch of Plum Creek in Stearns County, MN was classified by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency as impaired due to high levels of E. coli. Citizen science to investigate the source of this contamination began in 2014 and with the addition of student research from CSB/SJU in 2016. This thesis presents results of the 2016 study, supplemented by summary of Minnesota water quality policy and recent research on indicator organisms. The 2016 study confirmed presence of fecal coliform indicator bacteria, but to date no source of contamination has been identified. As a result, a key contention of this thesis is that further research is necessary regarding the influence of sediment E. coli on stream E. coli in order to establish or maintain policies that protect human health and are fiscally and environmentally effective.