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Rapid Detection Methods

Traditional microbiological methods for detecting fecal-indicator bacteria and pathogenic organisms can take at least 18 hours to obtain results. Because water quality can change significantly during this timeframe, the safety of the water may not be accurately assessed. The need for rapid detection methods that provide reliable results of the current day’s water-quality conditions is widely recognized.

The USGS Ohio Water Science Center is currently testing two rapid detection methods that are being used in a variety of applications, including rapid assessment of recreational water quality, direct detection of pathogens, and microbial source tracking.

Click on a method to learn more.

Rapid Detection Method Navigation IMS/ATP Rapid Detection Method QPCR Rapid Detection Method








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The USGS Ohio Water Science Center has been working to optimize and field apply rapid microbial detection methods. With the assistance of our cooperators, many projects have been developed to test these methods at recreational beaches and rivers, as well as drinking water supply systems.

National Park Service

NPS/USGS Water Quality Partnership Program

Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District

Ohio Water Development Authority

Cuyahoga County Board of Health

Cuyahoga County Sanitary Engineers

Ohio Department of Health

Ohio Lake Erie Commission Office

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Homeland Security Research Center

USGS Instrumentation Committee

USGS Office of Water Quality