Escherichia Colia Monitoring in the Spring Mill Lake Watershed in South-Central Indiana


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Publication Date

January 2003


The Spring Mill Lake watershed is located in the Mitchell Plateau physiographic section, a karst area developed on Mississippian limestones and dolostones in south-central Indiana. Spring Mill Lake is a man-made reservoir built in the late 1930s and is located in Spring Mill State Park. Within the park, ground water from subsurface conduits issues as natural springs and then flows in surface streams to Spring Mill Lake. Waters flowing from the springs in the park were analyzed to determine potential nonpoint-source contaminants entering Spring Mill Lake from 1998 to 2002. For this project, data-collecting sites were selected within the several subwatersheds of the Spring Mill Lake watershed, including the springs discharging from Donaldson Cave, Hamer Cave, Upper Twin Cave, Whistling Cave, Wind Cave, and the Rubble site. This paper reports on Escherichia coli concentrations and ambient water quality parameters of the springs, a stream, and the lake within Spring Mill State Park. Water samples for the analysis of E. coli were collected at the monitoring sites once during each quarter from August 1998 through February 2002. Ambient water-quality measurements were taken quarterly at the monitoring sites from August 1998 through May 2000. E. coli concentrations from the monitoring sites within the Spring Mill Lake watershed varied greatly from concentrations below the detection limit, <1 most probable number (MPN) of organisms per 100 milliliters (mL) of water, to 980,000 MPN/100 mL. E. coliappears to be a potential health risk at several of the springs within the park, particularly at the spring at the Rubble site.


E. Coli, Spring Mill Lake, Watershed, Mississippian Limestones, South-Central Indiana

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