Date Approved


Graduate Degree Type


Degree Name

Biology (M.S.)

Degree Program


First Advisor

Dr. Rick R. Rediske

Second Advisor

Dr. James N. McNair

Third Advisor

Dr. Sean A. Woznicki

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Charlyn Partridge

Academic Year



Non-point source fecal pollution is a threat to both the environment and public health. Climate change, aging infrastructure, and intensified agricultural practices are predicted to accentuate this issue. In Michigan, due to the high instance of aging infrastructure and intensified agriculture, non-point source fecal pollution has caused many waterbodies to exceed the state standards posing a risk to recreational activities and source water. Due to this threat, there is an increased effort to identify and remediate these sources. My study focused on improving the identification of non-point source fecal pollution through a combination of culture-based and molecular fecal indicator bacteria (FIB) identification, combined with geospatial and statistical modeling approaches. In Chapter 2, I assessed associations between measured FIB and key watershed characteristics in two watersheds located in Ottawa County, Michigan: Bass River and Deer Creek. Results indicated several associations between watershed characteristics and monitored FIB, which should be considered in future non-point source monitoring efforts. In Chapter 3, I created a new tool to aid stakeholders in interpreting FIB monitoring results. This tool was applied to FIB data from the previous chapter as well as FIB data from five public beaches in Macomb County, Michigan. Results indicated that the framework could improve the interpretation of monitored data. Using this tool, stakeholders can better identify and remediate the most impaired areas first, maximizing their impact and minimizing costs. In Chapter 4, I assessed potential improvements to components of a commonly used geospatial model, the Agricultural Conservation Planning Framework (ACPF), and looked at the model’s ability to assess non-point source fecal pollution from runoff derived events. To determine this, I first updated the sediment delivery ratio (SDR) in runoff risk and compared the updated outputs to measured FIB to identify ACPF’s ability to assess FIB concentrations. Results indicated a significant difference between model outputs, but limitations in experimental design precluded an adequate assessment of my objective for this chapter. Recommendations on future studies to properly assess these objectives were offered.