Impact of Different Land Uses on the Escherichia coli Concentrations, Physical and Chemical Water Quality Parameters in a Tropical Stream

  • Ling Teck Yee
  • Lim Swee Wee
  • Lesley Maurice Bilung
  • Lee Nyanti
Keywords: Animal farming, agricultural run-off, total suspended solids, dissolved oxygen, tropical stream


Rural streams are important source of water for the nearby communities. However, bacterial contamination from agriculture and human settlement may render the water unsuitable for drinking and body contact recreation. Hence, the objective of this study was to determine the impact of different land uses such as animal farming and human settlement on E. coli concentrations in the Serin River, a tropical stream. Samplings were conducted at 9 stations from September 2009 to March 2010. Results showed that E. coli concentrations ranged from 2,000-6,900,000 CFU/100 mL with E. coli concentrations in fish aquaculture water exceeding the WHO standard. Animal and crop farming stations showed the highest E. coli concentrations in the tributaries. Re-suspension from stream sediment and non-point sources such as runoff contributed to the high concentrations observed in the main river. Multiple linear regressions indicated that total suspended solids and dissolved oxygen were significant water quality parameters and they explained 68.1% of the total E. coli variations observed.


Ainon, H., Mohd-Jefrin A.A., & Ling, T.Y. (2005). Comparison of modern and traditional pig wastewater in Serian, Sarawak. Malaysian Applied Biology Journal, 34(2): 75-82.

Baudisova, D. (1997). Evaluation of Escherichia coli as the main indicator of faecal pollution. Water Science and Technology, 35(11-12): 333-336.

Bitton. G. (1994). Wastewater Microbiology. New York: Wiley-Liss, Inc. pp. 81-83, 101-108.

Clesceri, L.S., Greensburg, A.E., & Eaton, A.D. (Eds.). (1998). Standard methods for examination of water and wastewater. 20th edition. Washington D.C.: American Public Health Association. pp. 1325.

DOE. 1994. Interim National Water Quality Standards. In: Final report on development of water quality criteria and standards for Malaysia (Phase IV-River Classification Vol. 2). Department of Environment, Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment, Malaysia.

Edberg, S.C., Rice, E.W., Karlin, R.J., & Allen, M.J. (2000). Escherichia coli: the best biological drinking water indicator for public health protection. Journal of Applied Microbiology, 88: 106S-116S.

Fries, J.S., Characklis G.W., & Noble, R.T. (2008). Sediment-water exchange of Vibrio sp. and fecal indicator bacteria: Implications for persistence and transport in the Neuse River Estuary, North Carolina, USA. Water Research, 42: 941-950.

Fries, J.S., Characklis, G.W., & Noble, R.T. (2006). Attachment of fecal indicator bacteria to particles in the Neuse River Estuary, N.C. Journal of Environmental Engineering, 132(10): 1338-1345.

Gannon, J., Busse, M., & Schillinger, J. (1983). Fecal coliform disappearance in a river impoundment. Water Research, 17: 1595-1601.

Garcia-Armisen, T. & Servais, P. (2004). Enumeration of viable E. coli in rivers and wastewaters by fluorescent in situ hybridization. Journal of Microbiological Methods, 58: 269-279.

Ham, Y. & Kobori, H. (2009). Effects of combined sewer overflow and stormwater on indicator bacteria concentrations in the Tama River due to the high population density of Tokyo Metropolitan area. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 152: 459-468.

Hyland, R., Byrne, J., Selinger, B., Graham, T., Thomas, J., Townshend, I., & Gannon, V. (2003). Spatial and temporal distribution of fecal indicator bacteria within the Oldman River Basin of Southern Alberta, Canada. Water Quality Research Journal of Canada, 38(1): 15-32.

Jamieson, R.C., Gordon, R.J., Sharples, K.E., Stratton, G.W., & Madani, A. (2002). Movement and persistence of fecal bacteria in agricultural soils and subsurface drainage water: A review. Canadian Biosystems Engineering, 44: 1.1-1.9.

Kinson, T., Greer, T., & Mohamad, S. (2001). Water effluent from pig farms in Sabah-A Preliminary investigation of key environmental issues. State Environment Conservation Department, Sabah.

Lawson, T.B. (1995). Fundamentals of aquacultural engineering. New York: Chapman and Hall. p. 20-24.

Ling, T.Y., Liew, C.F., & Modingin, A. (2007). Optimization of oxidation pond efficiency in animal farm wastewater treatment. Journal of Engineering Science, 3: 51-61.

Ling, T.Y., Achberger, E.C., Drapcho, C.M., & Bengtson, R.L. (2002). Quantifying adsorption of an indicator bacteria in a soil-water system. Transactions of the ASAE, 45(3): 669-674.

Ling, T.Y., Azzyati, Z.I.M., & Lesley, M.B. (2012). Temporal and spatial variations and decay rates of E. coli in river sediment. Journal of Sustainability Science and Management, 7(1): 16-22.

Ling, T.Y., Layang, H., and Apun, K. (2008). Water quality variations and decay rates of E. coli in water and sediment of the Serin River. In Proceedings of the 10th Symposium of Malaysian Society of Applied Biology, 6-8 November, Kuching, Malaysia, pp. 108-111.

Ling, T.Y., Layang, H.W., Then, Y.P., & Apun, K. (2006). Impacts of pig farming on the water quality of Serin River, Sarawak. Sains Malaysiana, 35(1): 45-50.

Ling, T.Y., Srikaran, R., Kho, C.P., & Nyanti, L. (2010). Organic matter, nutrients and trace metals of the Serin River. World Applied Sciences Journal, 8(4): 496-502.

Maier, R.M., Pepper, I.L., & Gerba, C.P. (2009). Environmental microbiology. Second edition. Burlington, MA: Academic Press. pp. 137, 448, 516.

Mara, D. & Horan, N. (2003). The Handbook of water and wastewater microbiology. London: Academic Press. pp. 101-102, 113-126, 196, 611-626.

Mishra, A., Benham, B.L. & Mostaghimi, S. (2008). Bacterial transport from agricultural lands fertilized with animal manure. Water, Air, and Soil Pollution, 189: 127-134.

Muyibi, S.A., Ambali, A.R., & Eissa, G.S. (2008). The impact of economic development on water pollution: Trends and policy actions in Malaysia. Water Resource Management, 22: 485-508.

Pachepsky, Y.A., Sadeghi, A.M., Bradford, S.A., Shelton, D.R., Guber, A.K., & Dao, T. (2006). Transport and fate of manure-borne pathogens: modeling perspective. Agricultural Water Management, 86: 81-92.

Pappas, E.A., Kanwar, R.S., Baker, J.L., Lorimor, J.C., & Mickelson, S. (2008). Fecal indicator bacteria in subsurface drain water following swine manure application. Transactions of the ASABE, 51: 1567-1573.

Shehane, S.D., Harwood, V.J., Whitlock, J.E., & Rose, J.B. (2005). The influence of rainfall on the incidence of microbial faecal indicators and the dominant sources of faecal pollution in a Florida river. Journal of Applied Microbiology, 98: 1127-1136.

Tallon, P., Magajna, B., Lofranco, C., & Leung, K.T. (2005). Microbial indicators of faecal contamination in water: a current perspective. Water, Air, and Soil Pollution, 166: 139-166.

Thiagarajan, A., Gordon, R., Madani, A., & Stratton, G.W. (2007). Discharge of Escherichia coli from agricultural surface and subsurface drainage water: Tillage effects. Water, Air, and Soil Pollution, 182: 3-12.

USEPA. (1986). Ambient Water Quality Criteria for Bacteria. EPA440/5-84-002, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Water Regulations and Standards, Criteria and Standards Div., Washington, D.C.

WHO. (1989). Health Guidelines for the Use of Wastewater in Agriculture and Aquaculture. Technical Report Series No. 778, World Health Organization, Geneva.

How to Cite
Yee, L. T., Wee, L. S., Bilung, L. M., & Nyanti, L. (2016). Impact of Different Land Uses on the Escherichia coli Concentrations, Physical and Chemical Water Quality Parameters in a Tropical Stream. Borneo Journal of Resource Science and Technology, 2(2), 42-51.