Fecal Indicator and Pathogenic Bacteria and Their Antibiotic Resistance in Alluvial Groundwater of an Irrigated Agricultural Region with Dairies

J Environ Qual. 2015 Sep;44(5):1435-47. doi: 10.2134/jeq2015.03.0139.


Surveys of microbiological groundwater quality were conducted in a region with intensive animal agriculture in California, USA. The survey included monitoring and domestic wells in eight concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and 200 small (domestic and community supply district) supply wells across the region. was not detected in groundwater, whereas O157:H7 and were each detected in 2 of 190 CAFO monitoring well samples. Nonpathogenic generic and spp. were detected in 24.2% (46/190) and 97.4% (185/190) groundwater samples from CAFO monitoring wells and in 4.2% (1/24) and 87.5% (21/24) of CAFO domestic wells, respectively. Concentrations of both generic and spp. were significantly associated with well depth, season, and the type of adjacent land use in the CAFO. No pathogenic bacteria were detected in groundwater from 200 small supply wells in the extended survey. However, 4.5 to 10.3% groundwater samples were positive for generic and . Concentrations of generic were not significantly associated with any factors, but concentrations of were significantly associated with proximity to CAFOs, seasons, and concentrations of potassium in water. Among a subset of and isolates from both surveys, the majority of (63.6%) and (86.1%) isolates exhibited resistance to multiple (≥3) antibiotics. Findings confirm significant microbial and antibiotic resistance loading to CAFO groundwater. Results also demonstrate significant attenuative capacity of the unconfined alluvial aquifer system with respect to microbial transport.