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Water quality prediction of marine recreational beaches receiving watershed baseflow and stormwater runoff in southern California, USA.

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Water research

Elsevier BV

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      Beach advisories are issued to the public in California when the concentration of fecal indicator bacteria (FIB), including total coliform, fecal coliform (or Escherichia coli), and Enterococcus, exceed their recreational water health standards, or when the amount of a rainfall event is above the pre-determined threshold. However, it is not fully understood about how and to what degree stormwater runoff or baseflow exerts impacts on beach water quality. Furthermore, current laboratory methods used to determine the FIB levels take 18-96 h, which is too slow to keep pace with changes in FIB levels in water. Thus, a beach may not be posted when it is contaminated, and may be posted under advisory when bacterial levels have already decreased to within water quality standards. The study was designed to address the above critical issues. There were large temporal and spatial variations in FIB concentrations along two popular State Beaches in San Diego, CA, USA. The rainstorm-induced runoff from the watersheds exerts significant impacts on the marine recreational water quality of the beaches adjacent to lagoons during the first 24-48 h after a rain event. The large volume of stormwater runoff discharging to beaches caused high FIB concentrations in beach water not only at the lagoon outlet channel and the mixing zone, but also at the locations 90 m away from the channel northward or southward along the shoreline. The geomorphology of beach shoreline, distance from the outlet channel, wind strength, wind direction, tide height, wave height, rainfall, time lapse after a rainstorm, or channel flow rate played a role in affecting the distribution of FIB concentrations in beach water. Despite the great temporal and spatial variability of FIB concentrations along a shoreline, the artificial neural network-based models developed in this study are capable of successfully predicting FIB concentrations at different beaches, different locations, and different times under baseflow or rainstorm conditions. The models are based on readily measurable variables including temperature, conductivity, pH, turbidity, channel water flow, rainfall, and/or time lapse after a rainstorm. The established models will help fill the current gap between beach posting and actual water quality and make more meaningful and effective decisions on beach closures and advisories.

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      Author and article information

      [1 ] California Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Pesticide Regulation, Surface Water Protection Program, 1001 I Street, P.O. Box 4015, Scramento, CA 95812, USA.
      Water Res.
      Water research
      Elsevier BV
      May 2008
      : 42
      : 10-11
      18242661 S0043-1354(08)00008-0 10.1016/j.watres.2008.01.002


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