Preferential transport of Escherichia coli through soil
Contamination of water sources resulting from Escherichia coli 0157:H7 movement through the soil requires knowledge of the transport mechanisms. The objective of this study was to examine the effect of initial soil water content on the preferential transport of E. coli through the soil. The study was conducted on a heavy clay soil near Plenty, SK. Escherichia coli as well as conservative and adsorptive tracers were applied to treatments that were initially dry, partially wet, and initially wet. Relative breakthroughs of E. coli and Cl- were similar for all three treatments, showing a large proportion of the mass applied remained in the top 10 cm of soil, indicating transport through the soil matrix. Beyond this depth, E. coli: Cl- ratios remained consistent, suggesting transport along preferential pathways. The lack of differences between treatments may suggest that irrespective of the transport pathway, the end result is the same. This study is important for semi-arid areas where dry cracked soils can receive intense thunderstorms that provide enough water to transport E. coli to substantial depths.
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