Microbiological safety of popular recreation swimming sites in Central California

Xunde Li, Jennifer A. Chase, Ronald F. Bond, Panachon Lor, Kristine Fernandez, Trân H. Nguyen, Melissa L. Partyka, Anyarat Thiptara, Edward R Atwill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The objective of the study was to assess the microbiological safety of popular recreational swimming sites in Central California. Water samples were collected from eleven monitoring sites across the lower reaches of two watersheds for two consecutive swimming seasons (2012–2013), and levels of indicator and pathogenic microorganisms were determined. Data on ambient weather and water chemistry were collected for analyzing their associations with microorganisms in water. All water samples were positive for indicator E. coli with mean concentrations per site ranging from 3.07 to 216.11 MPN/100 ml in 2012 and 13.4 to 226.97 MPN/100 ml in 2013. Mean E. coli concentrations in 27% and 36% samplings sites exceeded the EPA 2012 Recreational Water Quality Criteria recommended mean concentration of ≤ 126 CFU/100 ml of E. coli, in 2012 and 2013, respectively. Cryptosporidium spp. oocysts were detected in all water samples from all sampling sites, with an overall prevalence of 50% and mean concentrations of 0.08 oocysts/l in 2012 and 0.19 oocysts/l in 2013. Giardia spp. cysts were detected at eight sites, with an overall prevalence of 28.8% and mean concentration of 0.2 cysts/l in both years. The majority of the detected Cryptosporidium spp. oocysts and Giardia spp. cysts appeared damaged under microscopy. E. coli O157:H7 was detected in 9% of water samples, with positive samples limited to three sites. Salmonella spp. were detected in all but one site across the two years, with mean concentrations of 0.94 MPN/l in 2012 and 1.85 MPN/l in 2013. Cryptosporidium spp. oocyst concentrations were negatively associated with 30-day mean wind speed and cumulative precipitation and dissolved oxygen in water. Giardia spp. cyst concentrations were positively associated with turbidity and pH of water and negatively associated with E. coli concentrations and 24-h mean air temperature. Salmonella spp. concentrations were positively associated with 30-day mean air temperature. The occurrence of E. coli O157:H7 was positively associated with previous 30-day cumulative precipitation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number456
JournalEnvironmental Monitoring and Assessment
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2019


  • Cryptosporidium
  • E. coli
  • E. coli O157
  • Giardia
  • Salmonella
  • Swim
  • Water quality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Pollution
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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