The performance of rapid and practicable techniques that presumptively identify total coliforms (TC), fecal coliforms (FC), Escherichia coli, and Clostridium perfringens spores (CP) by testing them on a pollution gradient in difering aquatic habitats in a high-altitude tropical country was evaluated during a 12-month period. Site selection was based on high and low anthropogenic influence criteria of paired sites including six spring, six stream, and four lakeshore sites spread over central and eastern parts of Uganda. Unlike the chemophysical water quality, which was water source type dependent (i.e., spring, lake, or stream), fecal indicators were associated with the anthropogenic influence status of the respective sites. A total of 79% of the total variability, including all the determined four bacteriological and five chemophysical parameters, could be assigned to either a pollution, a habitat, or a metabolic activity component by principal-component analysis. Bacteriological indicators revealed significant correlations to the pollution component, reflecting that anthropogenic contamination gradients were followed. Discrimination sensitivity analysis revealed high ability of E. coli to differentiate between high and low levels of anthropogenic influence. CP also showed a reasonable level of discrimination, although FC and TC were found to have worse discrimination efficacy. Nonpoint influence by soil erosion could not be detected during the study period by correlation analysis, although a theoretical contamination potential existed, as investigated soils in the immediate surroundings often contained relevant concentrations of fecal indicators. The outcome of this study indicates that rapid techniques for presumptive E. coli and CP determination may be reliable for fecal pollution monitoring in high-altitude tropical developing countries such as those of Eastern Africa.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Food Science
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology