The effect of cattle grazing on indicator bacteria in runoff from a pacific northwest watershed
Journal of Environmental Quality , 11 , 1982

Jawson, M.D., Elliott, L.F., Saxton, K.E., Fortier, D.H.

Total coliform (TC), fecal coliform (FC), and fecal streptococcal (FS) numbers were monitored for 3 years to determine the effect of grazing on the presence of these organisms in runoff from a cattle-grazed and a nongrazed watershed in the Pacific Northwest. The watersheds were characterized by winter precipitation and summer grazing. Weighted-average numbers of TC and FS in runoff did not appear to be appreciably different between the two watersheds during the study. Numbers of TC in runoff from both watersheds routinely exceeded 10,000/100 mL. Prolonged absence of grazing animals did not seem to affect number of TC and FS in runoff from the check watershed. Each spring after a period of warm weather and prolonged absence of animals, there were increases in numbers of TC, FC, and FS in the runoff. There was some correlation between recentness of grazing and numbers of indicator bacteria in runoff. However, more than a year after animals were removed from the nongrazed check watershed FC numbers in runoff still exceeded 200/100 mL in many samples, and not until the following year did they drop to < 10/100 mL. Sampling at several locations within the grazed watershed showed that sources of indicator bacteria were well distributed, and as a result were nonpoint after the initial runoff events. Thus, present FC recommendations developed for point-sources would not apply adequately to grazed land in the Pacific Northwest. Indicator bacteria as presently analyzed would not provide a basis for developing best management practices.