About The Illinois State Water Survey

Groundwater Science

Identification of Sources of Fecal Pollution of Karst Waters

Principal Investigators: Walton Kelly, Wen-Tso Liu1, and Sam Panno2

Project Staff: Mark Anliker, Kevin Rennels

Sponsor: The Midwest Technology Assistance Center for Small Public Water Systems (MTAC), U.S. EPA

Project Period: 2010–2011

The primary objective of this study is to evaluate a new method, hierarchical oligonucleotide primer extension (HOPE), to distinguish between human and livestock sources of fecal contamination in karst aquifers. Samples are being collected from public and private wells in Illinois, Missouri, and Wisconsin. Samples are being analyzed for key inorganic chemical parameters, dissolved organic carbon (DOC), bacterial indicators (TC, FC, FE), and HOPE. A subset of samples is being screened for pharmaceuticals and personal care products. This project will provide field validation of the HOPE method and how it relates to chemical and bacterial indicators of enteric contamination. We will identify the sources of enteric contamination, helping regulators determine the most effective strategies for source water protection. Public and private water supplies will receive a direct benefit from knowing the source of their contamination and will be provided guidance on possible ways to reduce their contamination risk.

Findings to Date:

The first set of samples has been collected in Illinois and Wisconsin. Laboratory results are not yet available. Potential sampling sites in Missouri are currently being identified.


Selected Related Publications

Hong, P.-Y., J.-H. Wu, and W.-T. Liu. 2009. A high-throughput and quantitative hierarchical oligonucleotide primer extension (HOPE)-based approach to identify sources of fecal contamination in water bodies. Environmental Microbiology 11(7): 1672-1681.

Kelly, W. R., S. V. Panno, K. C. Hackley, A. T. Martinsek, I. G. Krapac, C. P. Weibel, and E. C. Storment. 2009. Bacteria contamination of groundwater in a mixed land-use karst region. Water Quality, Exposure and Health 1(2):69-78.

1Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Illinois
2Illinois State Geological Survey

Illinois State Water Survey

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Champaign, IL 61820-7463
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