This research used a weight-of-evidence approach to evaluate sources of contaminants in a drinking water watershed that serves as part of the City of Boston's water supply. The approach incorporated land use analysis using GIS, sanitary surveys, traditional water quality monitoring and microbial source tracking (MST) tools. Case-study tributaries were selected based on elevated faecal coliform counts. Land use analysis and sanitary surveys were used to identify suspected microbial sources, including residential septic systems, agricultural animal operations, commercial/industrial operations and wildlife activity. Sampling sites were selected to hydrologically isolate potential contamination sources. Samples were collected seasonally over 1 year and analysed for traditional and MST parameters. Results demonstrated that both septic systems and a horse stable were contributing microbial loads in the first tributary. In the second tributary, septic systems from the townhouses were contributing microbial loads while a plant nursery was contributing organic matter. This evidence was used to evaluate best management practices to mitigate the contamination.

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