Linked Hydrologic-Hydrodynamic Model Framework to Forecast Impacts of Rivers on Beach Water Quality
Monday, 15 December 2014
The goal of NOAA’s beach quality forecasting program is to use a multi-faceted approach to aid in detection and prediction of bacteria in recreational waters. In particular, our focus has been on the connection between tributary loads and bacteria concentrations at nearby beaches. While there is a clear link between stormwater runoff and beach water quality, quantifying the contribution of river loadings to nearshore bacterial concentrations is complicated due to multiple processes that drive bacterial concentrations in rivers as well as those processes affecting the fate and transport of bacteria upon exiting the rivers. In order to forecast potential impacts of rivers on beach water quality, we developed a linked hydrologic-hydrodynamic water quality framework that simulates accumulation and washoff of bacteria from the landscape, and then predicts the fate and transport of washed off bacteria from the watershed to the coastal zone. The framework includes a watershed model (IHACRES) to predict fecal indicator bacteria (FIB) loadings to the coastal environment (accumulation, wash-off, die-off) as a function of effective rainfall. These loadings are input into a coastal hydrodynamic model (FVCOM), including a bacteria transport model (Lagrangian particle), to simulate 3D bacteria transport within the coastal environment. This modeling system provides predictive tools to assist local managers in decision-making to reduce human health threats.