Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Charles Emerson

Second Advisor

Dr. Chansheng He

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


The Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services Department conducts water quality monitoring at public bathing beaches to determine public health risks and compliance with Michigan water quality standards. These standards require local health departments to collect and analyze a minimum of three water samples during each sampling event. Water samples are analyzed for Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria, an organism that indicates the presence of fecal contamination. During the 2007 sampling season, nine bathing beaches were monitored once each week. Three individual point samples (n = 486) and a composite sample (n = 144) were analyzed for each sampling event. This study compared the sample results of traditional (multiple individual point samples) and composite sampling methods. No statistically significant differences in bacteria concentrations were found between composite sample analysis and individual point sample analyses (r = 0.780 - 0.996, p < 0.0001). With a reduction in budget (as a result of composite sampling) and sampling frequency, the results of a retrospective cost analysis indicate numerous violations would have been missed. Composite sampling is a viable alternative (to traditional sampling techniques) that can be more protective of public health, cost effective, promote increased temporal frequencies, and maintain adequate spatial coverage.

Included in

Geography Commons