Exchange of E. coli from the foreshore reservoir to surface waters during intensified wave conditions
Monday, 15 December 2014
In recent years a number of studies have suggested that foreshore sand and porewater can act as a non-point source of microbial contamination to adjacent surface waters. Fecal indicator bacteria (FIB) can be released from the sand into the surface water through sand erosion or wave-induced porewater flows leading to FIB detachment. Although regression models often show that there is a strong correlation between wave events and high E. coli in surface waters, there is limited understanding of the mechanisms by which E. coli is transported from the subsurface foreshore reservoir (sand and porewater) to surface waters during wave events. An improved understanding of the transport mechanisms will facilitate the development of better water quality exceedences predictions. Detailed groundwater flow, sand level and E. coli measurements were conducted at Ipperwash Beach, Lake Huron (Ontario) for three wave events during the 2014 bathing season to evaluate the relative contribution of sand erosion and wave-induced pore water flow in transporting E. coli from the subsurface reservoir to the shallow waters. As expected, results indicate increased E. coli concentrations in ankle and waist deep surface water during periods of increased wave activity (wave height > 0.5m). Considerable sand erosion from the foreshore may have contributed to these increased surface water concentrations. The E. coli concentrations in the foreshore reservoir generally decreased as the wave height intensified, while E. coli concentrations in upshore sand and porewater locations increased.