Periódicos Brasileiros em Medicina Veterinária e Zootecnia

p. 1019-1026

Assessing the sources of high fecal coliform levels at an urban tropical beach

Davino, Aline Mendonça CavalcanteMelo, Milena Bandeira deCaffaro Filho, Roberto Augusto

Recreational water quality is commonly assessed by microbial indicators such as fecal coliforms. Maceió is the capital of Alagoas state, located in tropical northeastern Brazil. Its beaches are considered as the most beautiful urban beaches in the country. Jatiúca Beach in Maceió was found to be unsuitable for bathing continuously during the year of 2011. The same level of contamination was not observed in surrounding beaches. The aim of this study was to initiate the search for the sources of these high coliform levels, so that contamination can be eventually mitigated. We performed a retrospective analysis of historical results of fecal coliform concentrations from 2006 to 2012 at five monitoring stations located in the study region. Results showed that Jatiúca Beach consistently presented the worst quality among the studied beaches. A field survey was conducted to identify existing point and non-point sources of pollution in the area. Monitoring in the vicinity of Jatiúca was spatially intensified. Fecal coliform concentrations were categorized according to tide range and tide stage. A storm drain located in northern Jatiúca was identified as the main point source of the contamination. However, fecal coliform concentrations at Jatiúca were high during high tides and spring tides even when this point source was inactive (no rainfall). We hypothesize that high fecal coliform levels in Jatiúca Beach may also be caused by aquifer contamination or, more likely, from tide washing of contaminated sand. Both of these hypotheses will be further investigated.(AU)

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