The dispersion and transport of Cryptosporidium parvum oocysts, Escherichia coli and PRD1 bacteriophage seeded into artificial bovine faecal pats was studied during simulated rainfall events. Experimental soil plots were divided in two, one sub-plot with bare soil and the other with natural vegetation. Simulated rainfall events of 55 mm.h-1 for 30 min were then applied to the soil plots. Each experimental treatment was performed in duplicate and consisted of three sequential artificial rainfall events (‘Runs’): a control run (no faecal pats); a fresh faecal pat run (fresh faecal pats); and an aged faecal pat run (one week aged faecal pats). Transportation efficiency increased with decreasing size of the microorganism studied; Cryptosporidium oocysts were the least mobile followed by E. coli and then PRD1 phage. Rainfall events mobilised 0.5 to 0.9% of the Cryptosporidium oocysts, 1.3‒1.4% of E. coli bacteria, and 0.03‒0.6% of PRD1 bacteriophages from the fresh faecal pats and transported them a distance of 10 m across the bare soil sub-plots. Subsequent rainfall events applied to aged faecal pats only mobilised 0.01‒0.06% of the original Cryptosporidium oocyst load, between 0.04 and 15% of the E. coli load and 0.0006‒0.06% of PRD1 bacteriophages, respectively.

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