Total Coliforms and Escherichia coli in Surface and Subsurface Water from a Sugarcane Agroecosystem in Veracruz, Mexico

  •  Juan Megchún-García    
  •  Cesáreo Landeros-Sánchez    
  •  Alejandra Soto-Estrada    
  •  María del Refugio Castañeda-Chávez    
  •  Juan Martínez-Dávila    
  •  Iouri Nikolskii-Gavrilov    
  •  Itzel Galaviz-Villa    
  •  Fabiola Lango-Reynoso    


Water contamination is a phenomenon of global concern resulting from human activities. Coliform bacteria reduce water quality and negatively affect public health. The pollution of surface and groundwater by coliform bacteria, including Escherichia coli, originate, in general, from point sources of pollution derived from human settlements, such as those located in Module I-1, Irrigation District 035, La Antigua, Veracruz, Mexico. The objective of this study was to assess the level of contamination of surface and groundwater by coliform bacteria and E. coli, as well as to identify point sources of water contamination by these bacteria in the sugarcane agroecosystem of Irrigation Module I-1, La Antigua. Sampling sites included deep wells, irrigation canals and natural streams near point sources of pollution. The determination of total coliform bacteria and E. coli were made in accordance with Mexican Standard NMX-AA-042-1987. Total coliform results revealed differences between groundwater (198.6 MPN/100 mL) and surface water concentrations (52,419.2 MPN/100 mL) (p < 0.05), and between irrigation water (76,501.1 MPN/100 mL) and concentrations in natural streams (28,337.3 MPN/100 mL). The highest concentration of E. coli was found in groundwater and surface water samples from the municipality of La Antigua. The primary sources of contamination are the discharges from drains and septic tanks. Total coliform values exceeded permissible limits established by NOM-127-SSA1-1994 that regulates the permissible water quality limits for human use and consumption. The presence of E. coli represents a significant public health risk.

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