Assessing Pathogen Levels in Dairy Lagoon Wastewater and Potential Evaporation Losses
Tuesday, 16 December 2014
The ongoing drought in California necessitates the conservation of existing water resources while protecting the water quality. There is a critical need to improve the understanding of evaporation losses from dairy lagoons in California, and their corresponding changes in pathogen levels in the lagoon wastewater. We have carried out preliminary studies involving extensive dairy lagoon water sampling, and batch-scale experiments. The dairy wastewater was collected from both primary and secondary lagoons in three counties of California (Merced, Tulare, and Glenn Counties) for enumerating the levels of E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella spp., and Listeria monocytogenes. Subsequently, we conducted batch-scale experiments at mesophilic (31 and 37 ⁰C) and thermophilic temperatures (43 and 49 ⁰C) to understand the E. coli O157:H7 inactivation process and potential evaporative water losses. In addition, we compared the evaporation losses under the environment of biological activity and the environment of restricted biological activity (extreme environment with low pH). For E. coli O157:H7 enumeration, we used MacConkey agar, while for Salmonella spp., XLD agar was used. Listeria monocytogenes levels were measured using PALCAM agar (with selective supplement). In flushed dairy wastewater (fresh) samples, the average of E. coli O157:H7 levels were 2 × 104 CFU/mL. The average Listeria monocytogenes levels in flushed manure were 9 × 101. The levels of Salmonella spp. were non-detectable. In mesophilic condition (37 ⁰C) after 5 days of incubation, 8% of total water loss was observed, while at thermophilic temperature (49 ⁰C), 70% of total water loss was observed. After 5 days of incubation at 37 ⁰C, E. coli O157:H7 levels in flushed dairy manure were increased from 2.8 × 103 to 5.2 × 104 CFU/mL, while at 49 ⁰C, E. coli O157:H7 levels were reduced from 2.8 × 103 to 5 × 101 CFU/mL after 4 days of incubation. We anticipate that the results of this study would be useful in understanding the dynamics of water losses and pathogen inactivation in dairy lagoon wastewater.