Bacterial Pollution Source Tracking Guide

The Maine Healthy Beaches Program now has available Municipal Guide to Clean Water: Conducting Sanitary Surveys to Improve Coastal Water Quality


 This resource is focused on finding, fixing and preventing sources of fecal bacteria contamination in low density, coastal watersheds. Elements of this guide will also be useful for freshwater beaches and urban watersheds. While this guide was design with local government and agency staff in mind, most covered topics will also be relevant for volunteer groups. Just beware that some areas – such as directions on how to inspect private residences- are not appropriate for volunteers.


In addition to covering how to identify bacteria hot spots and track sources in a watershed, this guide also includes excellent overviews of many water testing issues including: indicator bacteria, sources of pollution, source tracking methods, waste disposal systems, stormwater issues, solutions and best management practices.


Whether you are looking to investigate a local water pollution issue yourself or want to learn more about what you should be asking your local authorities to do, this guide is a great resource! Or use it as an educational tool for students or new volunteers. It has great photos of many of the steps involved in water testing.


Pictured above is Sarah Mosley, Maine Healthy Beaches Water Quality Testing trainer, and Maine Chapter member. Sarah, along with Keri Lindberg, are responsible for training all the volunteers that collect samples for the Maine Healthy Beaches program, including a team of Maine Chapter volunteers. More info on Maine Chapter's water testing program is available on their website.




On the other side of the country, the City of Santa Barbara, California and the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) released two source tracking guide documents in 2011 and 2012.


The City of Santa Barbara and UCSB worked together on a Source Tracking Protocol Development Project. The project focuses on finding sources of human waste in storm drains and creeks.  The first resource is a short document (16 pages) titled  Tools for Tracking Human Fecal Pollution in Urban Storm Drains, Creeks and Beaches that provides an overview of tools available and successful examples of their use .

A much more detailed and technical report was produced by Dr. Patricia Holden at UCSB. This report is titled Source Tracking Protocol Development Project.