This study monitored surface water quality around a reservoir for a 2-year period. It was found that the total coliform test could be used in new ways, and in conjunction with other bacterial and viral indicators, to provide valuable information on the sources of fecal inputs and their potential impact on water quality. Two new approaches to the use of total coliforms were developed. Specifically, it was found that atypical colonies (AC) from the total coliform, membrane filtration test were invaluable input parameters for neural network models that could be trained to recognize and predict potentially hazardous fecal sources from agricultural activities. AC counts were also used in conjunction with total coliphage (TP) concentrations to create a reference index relative to domestic sewage to rank the level of fecal contamination at sites within the watershed. Atypical colonies isolated from total coliform tests of surface water samples were further classified with the API 20E system. The classification showed that the heterogeneous group known as atypicals consisted of three main groups of bacteria: modified coliforms, Aeromonas, and a mix of predominantly Vibrio and Samonella.

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