Preliminary Microbiological Coastal Water Quality Determination along the Department of Atlantico (Colombia): Relationships with Beach Characteristics
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DepartmentCiencias de la Tierra
SourceJ. Mar. Sci. Eng. 2021, 9(2), 122
Beach water quality is an important factor concerning public health and tourism linked to the "Sun, Sea and Sand" market and is usually assessed in international regulations by the quantification of Escherichia coli and enterococci counts. Despite Salmonella spp. detection not being included in international normative, the presence/absence of this bacteria is also an indicator of seawater quality. The objective of this study was to determine microbiological quality of beach water at 14 beaches along the Department of Atlantico (Colombia) and its relationship with beach characteristics as beach typology (i.e., urban, village, rural and remote areas), presence of beach facilities (e.g., bars, restaurants, etc.) and streams outflowing into the coastline. Sampling program aimed to analyse E. coli and Salmonella spp., by culture-based and real time PCR methods, respectively. Microbiological outcomes were compared with beach characteristics, and a cluster analysis was performed. E. coli and Salmonella spp. were detected in 70% and 20% of samples, respectively. Highest E. coli counts were observed at beaches classified as urban and at Sabanilla, a rural beach with presence of numerous beach restaurants/bars. Salmonella spp. presence was associated with streams that lack wastewater treatment systems. Cluster analysis clearly evidenced the relationship between E. coli and Salmonella spp. and beach characteristics, allowing to obtain indications to implement management programs. According to data obtained, monitoring programs have to be especially carried out in urban areas and at places with beach facilities. This could enhance microbiological water quality and consequently, beachgoers safety and touristic beach attractiveness to international visitors.