Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Marine Science

Major Professor

Joan B. Rose, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Debra E. Huffman, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Valerie J. Harwood, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Edward T. Van Vleet, Ph.D.

Committee Member

John H. Paul, Ph.D.


Water quality assessment is currently used for determining the risks from contamination with waterborne pathogenic microorganisms. The public health. significance of such microorganisms cannot be fully understood without the application of reliable environmental monitoring techniques that provide efficient recovery as well as information on the infectious potential of specific isolates. This research was carried out to assess the analytical performance of current and new methods for investigating the occurrence of waterborne Cryptosporidium oocysts in samples of surface water, groundwater and reclaimed water used for public access irrigation in the State of Florida.

Method 1623 of the U.S Environmental Protection Agency and a modified version of the Information Collection Rule protozoan method were evaluated using a combination of experimental conditions aimed at the optimization of the detection methods for the assessment of waterborne Cryptosporidium. Significant improvements on the recovery and detection of oocysts were obtained using Method 1623 with the Envirochek HV capsule filter. Additional modifications of the method components were included in order to provide information on the infectious potential of oocysts. The results suggest that even without overcoming method inconsistencies, the introduction of better concentration methods and highly specific identification techniques provide the required tools for addressing the challenges of existing and new emerging waterborne pathogens.

Microbiological characterization of ambient waters and proposed waters for wetland and lake restoration in Section 21 Wellfield was carried out in order to identify microbial constituents of concern and to determine the potential public health risks associated with the future enhancement of the hydrologic conditions of the Wellfield. Naturally occurring levels of microorganisms were found in ambient waters indicating an ambient level of risk exposure to pathogens and vulnerability of groundwater to microbial contamination. The highest detection of microbial indicators and pathogens occurred in the Interceptor canal while the reclaimed water source had the lowest level of microbial contamination. Cryptosporidium and enteric viruses were chosen as microbial of concern for the risk assessment study as they were found in all sampled sites. Further characterization of the ambient water quality 1s necessary prior to completing the microbial risk assessment of the pilot rehydration project.