Abstract

The aim of this study was to identify the main sources of fecal pollution at popular beaches and rivers in the island of Trinidad. Escherichia coli enumeration and microbial source tracking (MST) were used to identify the primary sources of fecal bacteria contamination at the sites. Nineteen sites exceeded USEPA water quality standards for safe recreational use. Highest levels of fecal contamination were recorded on the central and west coasts of the island and included Brickfield River (4,839 MPN 100 ml−1), Orange Valley Bay (2,406.6 MPN 100 ml−1) and Chaguaramas Bay (1,921.2 MPN 100 ml−1). MST detected human (HF183) fecal pollution at ∼63%, birds at ∼67%, chicken at ∼36% and cattle (BacCow) at ∼34% of the sites. MST is a useful and rapid method for identifying major sources of fecal pollution in rivers and beaches. In Trinidad water bodies, the main sources of fecal pollution were humans and birds. The large number of sites with elevated levels of fecal pollution detected is particularly alarming and represents a serious public health risk.

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