Bacterial water quality: Springs and streams in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Abstract

Water samples from streams and springs in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park were analyzed for fecal coliform, fecal streptococcus, and total coliform bacteria. Levels of bacteria were found to be highly variable but related to elevation, time of year, type of water source, and water level of the streams. Visitors did not seem to be major contributors to bacterial contamination. Levels of fecal coliform and total coliform in most water samples were unsuitable for drinking without treatment. Tennessee state standards for body contact recreation (swimming and wading) were exceeded in a few samples but none from streams suitable for swimming. As a result of these findings, park managers increased efforts to inform visitors of the need to treat drinking water and removed improvements at backcountry springs which tended to give the springs the image of safe, maintained water sources.

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Silsbee, D.G., Larson, G.L. Bacterial water quality: Springs and streams in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Environmental Management 6, 353–359 (1982). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01875067

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Key words

  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  • National Park Service
  • Water quality
  • Resources management
  • Bacteria
  • Indicator organisms