Presentation: Fecal Bacteria Contamination and Tillamook Bay Watersheds

e_coli.jpgJoin the Tillamook Estuaries Partnership and Oregon State University for an evening presentation on water quality in the Tillamook Bay basin, Thursday, January 17th, 6:00 PM at the United Methodist Church (3808 12th Street, Tillamook). Featured speakers include Dr. Katherine Field of OSU’s Microbiology Department and York Johnson of the TEP. Dr. Field will highlight the path-breaking research she and others have conducted on genetic markers for tracking sources of fecal contamination in the bay’s many subwatersheds.

One of the persistent problems of monitoring water quality is understanding the sources of contamination. Being able to trace a chemical or biological contaminant back to its source is a positive step towards eliminating the problem. But how do you know what is the source? With biological contaminants–such as bacteria from sewage or manure–it’s possible to look at their genetic make-up as the “tracer,” since the bacteria that appear in the guts of cattle, horses or other ruminants are different than those that appear in the guts of humans. Dr. Field’s work builds a case for monitoring genetic markers in ruminant (cattle) vs. human forms of the common fecal bacteria Esherichia coli (E. coli) as means of determining what the sources of contaminants are in a particular watershed. The initial studies conducted by Dr. Field and other researchers here in Tillamook indicate that there was a 40% greater probability of detecting a ruminant source marker (genetic marker) than a human one across the entire Tillamook Bay basin. She will discuss her research and implications for monitoring as well as cleaning up fecal contamination in this important coastal basin.

York Johnson will combine these data with over 10 years of water quality trends gathered by TEP volunteers and Johnson himself. His presentation “Status and Trends in the Tillamook Bay Basin” will outline the overall direction of water quality in the rivers and sloughs that flow into Tillamook Bay. York is the monitoring coordinator for the Partnership.

For more information, call TEP at (503) 322-2222.

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