The Impact of Environmental Variables on Faecal Indicator Bacteria in the Betna River Basin, Bangladesh

Majedul Islam*, Nynke Hofstra, Md Atikul Islam

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


Environmental variables influence Faecal Indicator Bacteria (FIB) in surface water. Understanding that influence is important, because presence of FIB, which are an indication of faecal contamination, means that harmful pathogens could be present that could also be influenced by environmental variables. Although some recent studies have focused on this topic, most of this work has been conducted in developed countries. Similar studies in developing countries and in a (sub)tropical climate are lacking. In this study we assess the influence of environmental variables on fluctuations in FIB concentrations of the Betna River in southwest Bangladesh that floods almost every year. Monthly water samples from five locations along Betna River were tested for FIB (E. coli and enterococci) in 2014–2015. A linear regression model was developed to assess the effect of the environmental variables on FIB concentrations. The study revealed increased FIB concentrations during wet weather conditions. Precipitation and water temperature were positively correlated with FIB concentrations. Water temperature was positively correlated, because the warm May to September period coincides with frequent precipitation. Precipitation increases manure release from land to surface water. The regression model explains nearly half of the variability in FIB concentrations (R2 of 0.46 for E. coli and 0.48 for enterococci). This study indicates that increased precipitation combined with higher water temperature, as is expected in this region with climate change, likely increases FIB concentrations. Waterborne pathogens are expected to respond similarly to these environmental changes, indicating that disease outbreaks could well become more frequent and severe.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-332
JournalEnvironmental Processes
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • E. coli
  • Enterococci
  • Precipitation
  • Regression
  • Salinity
  • Water temperature


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