Limestone aquifers provide the main drinking water resources of southern Italy. The groundwater is often contaminated by fecal bacteria because of the interaction between rocks having high permeability and microbial pollutants introduced into the environment by grazing and/or manure spreading. The microbial contamination of springwater in picnic areas located in high mountains can cause gastrointestinal illness. This study was carried out in order to analyze the interaction between Enterococcus faecalis and the soil of a limestone aquifer and to verify the influence of this interaction on the time dependence of groundwater contamination. E. faecalis was chosen because, in the study area involved, it represents a better indicator than Escherichia coli. The research was carried out through field (springwater monitoring) and laboratory experiments (column tests with intact soil blocks). The transport of bacterial cells through soil samples was analyzed by simulating an infiltration event that was monitored in the study area. Comparison of laboratory results with data acquired in the field showed that discontinuous precipitation caused an intermittent migration of microorganisms through the soil and produced, together with dispersion in the fractured medium (unsaturated and saturated zones), an articulated breakthrough at the spring. The short distances of bacterial transport in the study area produced a significant daily variability of bacterial contamination at the field scale.

Influence of Precipitation and Soil on Transport of Fecal Enterococci in Fractured Limestone Aquifers.

GUIDA, MARCO;VARCAMONTI, MARIO;
2004

Abstract

Limestone aquifers provide the main drinking water resources of southern Italy. The groundwater is often contaminated by fecal bacteria because of the interaction between rocks having high permeability and microbial pollutants introduced into the environment by grazing and/or manure spreading. The microbial contamination of springwater in picnic areas located in high mountains can cause gastrointestinal illness. This study was carried out in order to analyze the interaction between Enterococcus faecalis and the soil of a limestone aquifer and to verify the influence of this interaction on the time dependence of groundwater contamination. E. faecalis was chosen because, in the study area involved, it represents a better indicator than Escherichia coli. The research was carried out through field (springwater monitoring) and laboratory experiments (column tests with intact soil blocks). The transport of bacterial cells through soil samples was analyzed by simulating an infiltration event that was monitored in the study area. Comparison of laboratory results with data acquired in the field showed that discontinuous precipitation caused an intermittent migration of microorganisms through the soil and produced, together with dispersion in the fractured medium (unsaturated and saturated zones), an articulated breakthrough at the spring. The short distances of bacterial transport in the study area produced a significant daily variability of bacterial contamination at the field scale.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11588/203840
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