Microbiological indicators of water quality in the Xochimilco canals, Mexico City

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Journal: Salud Publica Mex 2003/11/25
Published: 2003
Authors: Juarez-Figueroa, L. A.;Silva-Sanchez, J.;Uribe-Salas, F. J.;Cifuentes-Garcia, E.
Address: Instituto Nacional de Salud Publica, Avenida Universidad 655 colonia Santa Maria Ahuacatitlan, 62508 Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico. luisjuarez@.insp.mx

OBJECTIVE: To quantify microbiology indicators of fecal contamination in the effluents of two waste water treatment plants and in samples collected in several canals in Xochimilco. MATERIAL AND METHODS: A cross sectional study was performed. Ten sites, 5 from plant effluents and 5 from canals, were selected for sampling during November and December 2001. Fecal coliforms and enterococci were quantified by membrane filtration, male specific (F+) and somatic coliphages by double agar layer technique, and Cryptosporidium oocysts and Giardia cysts by concentration with Envirocheck filter followed by immunofluorescence microscopy quantification. The average of organisms counts from effluents and canal water were compared with t Student test. RESULTS: Treated water discharge in canals showed a low count of Fecal Coliforms (average 40.4/100 ml), enterococci (average 58.8/100 ml) and Cryptosporidium oocysts (average 13.2/100 l), while coliphages and Giardia cyst rendered higher counts (average 1467.5/100 ml and 1199.8/100 l, respectively) suggesting the water treatment methods could fail to remove these agents. A significant lower count of Giardia cysts (average 45/100 l) and no Cryptosporidium oocysts were found in irrigation canals, which suggests a natural clearance of these pathogens. Strains of Escherichia coli isolated in one of the canals contaminated with sewage had antimicrobial multi-resistance that was transferred by conjugation suggesting that resistance is encoded in a plasmid potentially transferable to other pathogenic bacteria. CONCLUSIONS: Cost effective and culturally acceptable waste treatment methods will require careful planning and consultation if they are to be adopted and mantained by local populations.

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