Date of Award

Fall 12-1-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Dr. Dave Bachoon



Fecal pollution is a major concern in creeks and rivers. The aim of this study was to enumerate fecal coliform bacteria and identify the source of contamination using Microbial Source Tracking at three different creeks (Mountain Oak, Long Cane, and Ulcohatchee) in the Piedmont region of Georgia. Data collected in this research will be used to formulate watershed rehabilitation plans to decrease the transfer of fecal indicator bacteria (FIB) into these creeks. Samples were collected at several sites along the creeks (4 sites at Mountain Oak, 10 sites at Long Cane, and 5 sites at Ulcohatchee). The site locations are near artificial land cover such as roads, bridges, or houses. IDEXX analysis was performed to quantify fecal coliform (FC) bacterial levels and qPCR using human and animal specific Bacteroidales markers was used for Microbial Source Tracking (MST). FC pollution was highest in the warmer months: June through October in the Mountain Oak creek, April through September in the Long Cane creek, and August in the Ulcohatchee creek. Some measurements exceeded the USEPA guidelines of 200 MPN/100ml for FC bacteria in recreational waters. The highest value of 1986.3 MPN/100ml was detected at site 1 at the Mountain Oak Creek in June. In the Long Cane creek, the maximum value of 933.3 MPN/100 ml was recorded at site 2 during September 2019. The maximum value at the Ulcohatchee creek was 1299.7 MPN/100ml which was recorded in August 2018 at site 1. Microbial source tracking analysis showed that horse was the major source of fecal indicator bacteria (FIB) in Mountain Oak creek and was detected mostly at sites 1 and 4. Cattle and deer were the major contributors in the Ulcohatchee creek. The cattle marker was detected on 7 different occasions at this creek and was detected on two separate accounts at sites 1 and 2. These two sites also had the highest overall average FC levels out of the five sites at this creek. In the Long Cane creek, beaver was the main source of FIB because it was detected at every site at least once during the three source tracking events. Cattle and the deer markers were most common in sites 5 and 6 of this watershed.