Upper Cannon River Watershed



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E. coli – Escherichia coli

E. coli is a type of fecal coliform bacteria which are associated with human and animal wastes.

Escherichia coli (abbreviated as E. coli) are a large and diverse group of bacteria that are commonly found in the intestines of animals and humans. The presence of E. coli in water is a strong indication of sewage or animal waste contamination and therefore E. coli are used as markers for water contamination. There are hundreds of strains of the bacterium E. coli and most strains are harmless and live in the intestines of healthy humans and animals, however, others can make you sick. Some kinds of E. coli can cause diarrhea, while others cause urinary tract infections, respiratory illness and pneumonia, among other illnesses. According to the EPA, E. coli O157:H7 is an emerging cause of foodborne and waterborne illness. This strain produces a powerful toxin and can cause severe illness.

Sources of E. coli: Fecal coliform and E. coli bacteria found in rivers and streams comes from human, livestock, pet, and wildlife waste. Bacteria can be directly transferred to surface waters from noncompliant septic systems, wastewater treatment facility discharge points , urban stormwater systems, spills or runoff from feedlots or manure storage facilities, runoff from agricultural lands that receive manure applications, and direct deposition into waterways by wildlife or grazing animals. Statewide, amounts tend to be lower in the forested and wetland-rich areas of northern Minnesota, and higher in agricultural and more heavily populated areas.





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