Distribution and persistence of Escherichia coli and Enterococci in stream bed and bank sediments from two urban streams in Houston, TX. Academic Article uri icon


  • The purpose of this research was to determine if Escherichia coli and enterococci in streambed and bank sediments from two urban bayous, Buffalo Bayou and White Oak Bayou, in Houston, TX, USA are a significant source of the chronically high levels of these bacteria in the overlying water. The watersheds of the bayous lie within highly urbanized areas of Greater Houston and there is primary recreational contact with the public. Extensive sampling of the watersheds was conducted from 2008 to 2010. Both fecal indicator bacteria were found at 10(4)MPNgdry wt.(-1) concentrations in the upper 1cm of sediment cores with declines by orders of magnitude at 15 and 30 cm sediment horizons and in some cases 60 cm, but, nonetheless, indicating that they can remain viable even at depth. No interannual variation was observed. And, there was no correlation with percent organic matter, however there was moderate correlation (R(2)=0.12; p=0.001) of E. coli with sediment moisture. In sediments, most E. coli and enterococci in Buffalo Bayou (76%) and White Oak Bayou (87.5%) were associated with fine sand grains (60 to 250 m). In the water column, E. coli was associated, in roughly equal percentages, with particle sizes <10, 10-25, 25-63, and 63 m (21.9, 25.6, 30.4, and 32.9%, respectively). Enterococci were mostly attached to particle sizes in the ranges of 10-25m (36.0%) and 25-63 m (31.1%) as well as 63 m (37.7%) (p=0.0001). Fingerprinting of E. coli isolates from both bayous with Rep-PCR and the BOX A1R primer was used to demonstrate translocation of sediments from the upper to lower watersheds.

published proceedings

  • Sci Total Environ

altmetric score

  • 1.35

author list (cited authors)

  • Brinkmeyer, R., Amon, R., Schwarz, J. R., Saxton, T., Roberts, D., Harrison, S., ... Elliott, C.

citation count

  • 34

complete list of authors

  • Brinkmeyer, Robin||Amon, Rainer MW||Schwarz, John R||Saxton, Tara||Roberts, Dustin||Harrison, Sarah||Ellis, Nicholas||Fox, Jessica||DiGuardi, Katherine||Hochman, Mona||Duan, Shuiwang||Stein, Ron||Elliott, Catherine

publication date

  • January 2015