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Title (Primary) Instream coliform gradients in the Holtemme, a small headwater stream in the Elbe River Basin, Northern Germany
Author Karthe, D.; Lin, P.-Y.; Westphal, K.;
Journal Frontiers of Earth Science
Year 2017
Department ASAM;
Volume 11
Issue 3
Language englisch;
POF III (all) T32;
Keywords surface water; stream; hygine; instream coliforms
UFZ wide themes RU2;

The Holtemme is a small headwater stream in North Germany’s Elbe River Basin. According to German and European legislation, hygienic monitoring is not mandatory for such water bodies which are neither drinking water sources nor categorized as bathing waters. Consequently, relatively little is known about the occurrence of–potentially pathogenic–bacteria and viruses in Germany’s streams and rivers. The Holtemme was selected for a case study because it is relatively well monitored for both chemical water quality and aquatic ecology, but not for hygiene. Originating in the mountains of Harz Nature Park, the 47 km long Holtemme is characterized by a strong longitudinal gradient in chemical water quality, which is related to different land uses and the influx of treated wastewater from two urban areas (Wernigerode and Halberstadt). Waste water loads received by the Holtemme are comparatively high when compared to similarly small streams.

In 2015, total coliform concentrations between more than 200 and 77,010 bacteria per 100 mL, and fecal coliform concentrations between 5 and 24,060 bacteria per 100 mL were observed in the Holtemme’s main channel. The highest concentrations were typically found below the outlets of the two wastewater treatment plants. The treated wastewater contained total and fecal coliform concentrations of up to 200,500 and 83,100 per 100 mL, respectively; however, there were significant temporal variations. While the observed concentrations are unproblematic from a legal perspective (because no maximum permissible limits are defined for streams in Germany), they would exceed the tolerable limits for bathing waters in the EU, indicating moderate to critical pollution limits.

ID 19040
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Karthe, D., Lin, P.-Y., Westphal, K. (2017):
Instream coliform gradients in the Holtemme, a small headwater stream in the Elbe River Basin, Northern Germany
Front. Earth Sci. 11 (3), 544 - 553