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Water Quality

Chemicals, algal blooms, and pathogens are measured and monitored to assist beach health and other water quality programs.

Microbiology

Cyanobacteria

Browse samples of USGS research about water quality and cyanobacteria. For related links, see Related Links and References at the bottom of page.

Lyngbya with epifluorescence illumination and Sytox Green. Photo credit: Barry H. Rosen, USGS.

Developing Standards for Detecting Cyanotoxins (Loftin, Rosen)

Deployment of an in situ nitrate sensor in Cheney Reservoir, Kansas. Photo credit: Trudy J. Bennett, USGS

Real-Time Estimation of Taste-and-Odor Occurrences (Graham)

Anabaena planktonica. Photo credit: Barry H. Rosen, USGS

Taste and Odor in Cyanobacteria
(Rosen)


Developing a Standard Operating Procedure for Accurately Detecting Cyanotoxins
Lyngbya with epifluorescence illumination and Sytox Green. Photo credit: Barry H. Rosen, USGS. Fig. 1. Image Gallery
Lyngbya with epifluorescence illumination and Sytox Green. Photo credit: Barry H. Rosen, USGS.
Fig. 2. Image Gallery
Lyngbya with epifluorescence illumination. Photo credit: Barry H. Rosen, USGS. Fig. 3. Image Gallery
Lyngbya with normal illumination. Photo credit: Barry H. Rosen, USGS
Fig. 4. Image Gallery

Keith Loftin (Kansas Water Science Center) and Barry Rosen (Florida Integrated Science Center) are developing a Standard Operating Procedure for accurately detecting cyanotoxins.  Our research, supported by the EPA, involves working on the methodology for rupturing cyanobacterial cells which causes the release of the toxins.  Keith is using a number of methods to rupture cells, including freeze-thaw techniques as well as sonication.  Barry is using microscopy to identify viable cells using DNA stains that are excluded from live cells.  Below is a series of images that illustrate their background information.

For more information, contact Keith Loftin, Kansas Algal Toxin Research Team, and Barry H. Rosen, Florida Integrated Science Center.

Figure 1/2. Lyngbya with epifluorescence illumination and Sytox Green (DNA stain that is excluded in live cells). Note the filament tips and extracellular material is staining positive (green) with the Sytox. Photo credit: Barry H. Rosen, USGS.
Figure 3. Lyngbya with epifluorescence illumination showing chlorophyll a fluorescence as red. Photo credit: Barry H. Rosen, USGS.
Figure 4.  Lyngbya with normal illumination. Photo credit: Barry H. Rosen, USGS.

Real-Time Estimation of Taste-and-Odor Occurrences in Cheney Reservoir, Kansas
Deployment of an in situ nitrate sensor in Cheney Reservoir, Kansas. Photo credit: Trudy J. Bennett, USGS
Deployment of an in situ nitrate sensor in Cheney Reservoir, Kansas. Photo credit: Trudy J. Bennett, USGS
Image Gallery

Cheney Reservoir, Kansas is one of the City of Wichita’s primary drinking-water supplies. Cyanobacterial-related taste-and-odor events in the reservoirs are a concern because of aesthetics and water-treatment costs. Since 2000, the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the City of Wichita, has operated real-time water-quality monitors on the North Fork of the Ninnescah River, the main tributary to Cheney Reservoir, and in Cheney Reservoir. Real-time water-quality variables measured since 2000 include water temperature, specific conductance, pH, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, and chlorophyll fluorescence (an estimate of algal abundance). Data collected during 2001-2003 were used to develop a real-time water-quality model to estimate Cheney Reservoir geosmin (an earthy odor compound) concentrations in real time. Multiple regression analysis was used to develop a relation between geosmin concentrations and the real-time measured sensor variables turbidity and specific conductance. The resulting model is used to provide hourly estimates of geosmin concentration on the World Wide Web at http://nrtwq.usgs.gov/ks/. Evaluation of the model indicates that, within existing model limits (turbidity of < 36 formazin nephelometric units, specific conductance of 790-915 microsiemens per centimeter), geosmin estimates are conservative (overestimates are more likely than underestimates). However, model probabilities for exceeding the human detection limit of 10 ng/L are fairly robust (probabilities were accurate for 76% of measured geosmin values during 2001-2008). Several additional real-time sensors have been installed in Cheney Reservoir since the development of the initial geosmin model including: wind speed and direction, light, nitrate, and phycocyanin fluorescence (an estimate of cyanobacterial abundance). These new variables may facilitate additional model development and enhance understanding of the factors driving cyanobacterial bloom development and taste-and-odor occurrence. Ongoing studies at Cheney Reservoir will refine the relations between reservoir and inflow conditions and taste-and-odor occurrences and develop similar models for the cyanobacterial toxin microcystin. The City of Wichita currently uses the real-time geosmin estimates, along with other variables measured in real time, to make management decisions that have helped decrease water-treatment costs.

See the project Web page: The Cheney Reservoir and Watershed Study

For more information contact Jennifer L. Graham, Kansas Algal Toxin Research Team.

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Taste and Odor in Cyanobacteria
Cultures of cyanobacteria. Photo credit: Barry H. Rosen, USGS
Cultures of cyanobacteria. Photo credit: Barry H. Rosen, USGS.
Image Gallery
Anabaena planktonica. Photo credit: Barry H. Rosen, USGS
Anabaena planktonica.  Arrow points to the heterocyst, the site of atmospheric nitrogen fixation. Photo credit: Barry H. Rosen, USGS.
Image Gallery

A collaborative project with the Kansas Water Science Center and USDA-ARS, we are exploring the allocation of photosynthetic carbon fixation into the taste and odor compounds 2-methylisoborneol (MIB) and geosmin in cultures of cyanobacteria.  Our culture collection has species that are known to be an issue with drinking water supplies throughout the world.

For more information, contact Barry H. Rosen, Florida Integrated Science Center.

See also Water Quality: Drinking Water >>

Related Links and References


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