Document Type



The Yucatan Peninsula’s groundwater is experiencing increases in degradation due to swelling population and tourism; yet little is known about sources and transport of contaminants in drinking water supplies. The karst allows for rapid transport of microbial and chemical contaminants to the subsurface, resulting in significantly increased potential for pollution of groundwater. The objective of this research is to determine the occurrence, source, and extent of fecal con- tamination in the Tulum region of the Peninsula. A multi-analytical approach was undertaken in impacted and unim- pacted groundwater locations; measurements included physicochemical parameters, total coliform and E. coli, Bacter- oides (human vs total) and caffeine. The results indicate a variation in geochemistry from impacted to protected sites. The total coliform and E. coli show fecal contamination is wide spread. However, the presence of human Bacteriodes and caffeine in the water in the Tulum well field indicates that the recent human activities next to the well field are im- pacting the drinking water supply. This project is an assessment of the area’s current water quality conditions and the probable impact that the aforementioned growth would have on the area’s water supply. By applying multiple source parameter measurements, including molecular microbiology and chemical indicators it was confirmed the extent of fe- cal contamination of human origin covered the entire sampling region.



Publication Date


Original Citation

Leal-Bautista, R. M., Lenczewski, M., Morgan, C., Gahala, A., & McLain, J. E. (2013). Assessing Fecal Contamination in Groundwater from the Tulum Region, Quintana Roo, Mexico. Journal of Environmental Protection, 4(11), 1272-1279. doi:10.4236/jep.2013.411148


Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences

Legacy Department

Department of Geology and Environmental Sciences


Funding for this research was provided by Northern Illinois University's Center for Latino and Latin American Studies, the Geology and Environmental Geosciences de- partment, and Library. This work was also funded by the United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Re- search Service, Water Management Conservation and Re- search Program. This article is made openly accessible in part by an award from the Northern Illinois University Libraries' Open Access Publishing Fund.



Rights Statement

In Copyright

Rights Statement 2

Copyright © 2013 Rosa Ma. Leal-Bautista et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.



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