Survival of Fecal Coliform in Lakes

George W. Chang changlab at
Thu Sep 22 23:44:08 EST 1994

In article <35t9pq$drj at>, runnerdes at
(Runnerdes) wrote:

> I wonder if anyone has any references on survival of fecal coliforms and
> other human/animal bacteria and viruses in lakes.  Is there a temperature
> cut-off below which these criters can't make it?  If so, is it dependent
> on species or is it a more general temperature requirement?
> Also, do you think that such bacteria/viruses could over-winter (lowest
> winter temperature of lake is about 55 degrees F) in biofilms attached to
> submerged vegetation or to particles of silt???
> Appreciate any replies!
> Dianne Stewart

Hi Dianne,
       There is actually quite a literature on the survival of E. coli and
other bacteria under all kinds of conditions.  E.coli does not multiply
significantly in lakes in the temperate regions, and so its story is one
of survival.  And the survival is generally better at lower temperatures.
        Biofilms apparently play a tremendous role in their survival under
almost any conditions.  In biofilms, they survive better and resist
chlorine better.
        Finally a note on "fecal coliforms".  This is an operational term
meaning "gram negative bacteria that can ferment lactose at 44 or 45
degrees Celsius."   Most E.coli are fecal coliforms, but so are a handful
of other genera of bacteria, including some environmental ones.

Best regards,

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