Understanding Bacterial Impairments of Iowa Beaches

Nov. 2 presentation to feature DNR experts presenting on E. coli mitigation

October 27, 2022, 4:14 pm | Alena Whitaker

AMES, Iowa – The Iowa Learning Farms conservation webinar taking place Nov. 2 at noon CDT will discuss the incidence and mitigation of E. coli and other bacterial pathogens at Iowa’s public beaches and lakes. The presentation will feature Claire Hruby, geologist, and Jason Palmer, natural resource biologist, both with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Iowa Learning Farms is an Iowa State University Extension and Outreach conservation and water quality education program.

graphical abstract.In the webinar, “Moving Toward a Better Understanding of Bacterial Impairments at Public Beaches in Iowa,” Hruby and Palmer will provide a contextual look at the occurrence of bacteria at Iowa’s public beaches through the data and results gathered in a multi-year study. Highlighting the spatial variability of E. coli across multiple beach and lake systems, the speakers will provide insights and targeted approaches to mitigating these and other pathogenic contaminants in the environment. They will also discuss the use of genetic techniques to better understand the sources and risks posed by infectious disease-causing organisms.

Hruby studied indicator bacteria and pathogen transport to tile lines as part of her doctoral program at Iowa State University. She continues to apply this in her work at the DNR, studying pathogen occurrence in environmental waters. Palmer works with the Water Quality Improvement Section of the Iowa DNR, leading the scientific assessment and data collection efforts of the program.

“As we continue to gather and analyze data with an eye toward assessing common pathogen levels and microbial source tracking, we will gain a better understanding of health risks,” said Palmer. “Attention to this situation should benefit all who engage in aquatic activities by informing actions to keep the water safe for use.”

“It is undeniable that E. coli and other contaminants are in our water and beach sand, and through these studies we have come to understand that the sand is providing a reservoir for these organisms,” said Hruby. “We all want to make use of Iowa’s numerous and beautiful beaches and water bodies for recreation and relaxation, but we also want to do so safely. Getting a clear picture of which contaminants are present and from where they might originate will enable creation of better response, control and mitigation practices.”

Participants in Iowa Learning Farms Conservation Webinars are encouraged to ask questions of the presenters. People from all backgrounds and areas of interest are encouraged to join.

Webinar access instructions  

To participate in the live webinar, shortly before noon CDT Nov. 2:

Upcoming webinars in the series

  • Nov. 9: John McMaine, South Dakota State University.
  • Nov. 16: Sarah Noggle, The Ohio State University.
  • Nov. 23: Jacqueline Comito, Iowa Learning Farms.
  • Nov. 30: Lauren Salvato, Upper Mississippi River Basin Association.
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