|Faecal contamination of water and sediment in the rivers of the Scheldt drainage network|Ouattara, N.K.; Passerat, J.; Servais, P. (2011). Faecal contamination of water and sediment in the rivers of the Scheldt drainage network. Environ. Monit. Assess. 183(1-4): 243-257. hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s10661-011-1918-9
In: Environmental Monitoring and Assessment. Kluwer: Dordrecht. ISSN 0167-6369, more
Microbiological water quality; Rivers; Faecal indicator bacteria; Sediment contamination; Wastewater
The Scheldt watershed is characterized by a high population density, intense industrial activities and intensive agriculture and breeding. A monthly monitoring (n = 16) of the abundance of two faecal indicator bacteria (FIB), Escherichia coli and intestinal enterococci (IE), showed that microbiological water quality of the main rivers of the Scheldt drainage network was poor (median values ranging between 1.4 × 103 and 4.0 × 105 E. coli (100 mL) − 1 and between 3.4 × 102 and 7.6 × 104 IE (100 mL) − 1). The Zenne River downstream from Brussels was particularly contaminated. Glucuronidase activity was measured in parallel and was demonstrated to be a valid surrogate for a rapid evaluation of E. coli concentration in the river waters. FIB were also investigated in the river sediments; their abundance was sometimes high (average values ranging between 2.1 × 102 and 3.3 × 105 E. coli g − 1 and between 1.0 × 102 and 1.7 × 105 IE g − 1) but was not sufficient to contribute significantly to the river water contamination during resuspension events, except for the Scheldt and the Nethe Rivers. FIB were also quantified in representative point sources (wastewater treatment plants) and non-point sources (runoff water and soil leaching on different types of land use) of faecal contamination. The comparison of the respective contribution of point and non-point sources at the scale of the Scheldt watershed showed that point sources were largely predominant.