Microbial water quality of recreational lakes near Tbilisi, Georgia

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Microbial safety of recreational water is one of the major human public health issues in developing countries. Three water bodies, the Tbilisi Sea, Kumisi and Lisi lakes, in the South Caucasus region near Tbilisi, Georgia, were monitored in 2006–2009 to determine microbiological quality using standard methods. Microbial pollution indicators were determined in parallel with phytoplankton abundance and measurement of a number of physical–chemical parameters. Kumisi Lake, a brackish water body in an active agricultural area, appeared to be the most polluted, whereas the Tbilisi Sea, a freshwater reservoir was the least polluted. High values for fecal indicators in all three lakes in summer and early autumn were revealed. In our study, total enterococci counts (TEC) appeared to be a better indicator than either fecal or total coliform counts for the evaluation of fresh and brackish microbial water quality. We found significant correlation between total Vibrio counts and TEC for all three water bodies. Prevalence of somatic coliphages and V. cholerae-specific phages as additional water pollution indicator significantly correlated with abundance of the host bacteria. Particular phytoplankton groups in the lakes responded to the changes of fecal indicators; however, no correlation was observed between dominant zooplankton taxonomic groups and microbial parameters.

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