Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2011NY165B

Two-Dimensional River Model for Predicting Bacterial Contamination of Bathing Beaches in the St. Lawrence River

Institute: New York
Year Established: 2011 Start Date: 2011-06-01 End Date: 2012-08-31
Total Federal Funds: $20,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $49,085

Principal Investigators: Michael Twiss

Abstract: Human health concerns stemming from recreational bathing are an important issue in the St. Lawrence River (over 100 miles in length) and throughout NY State. Despite high water quality in the main channel of this major river, bathing beaches are affected by tributary inputs that carry agricultural and urban effluents and have profound impacts on near shore water quality for considerable distance downstream; this is a concern for municipalities (e.g. Clayton, Alexandria Bay, Massena) and the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation who are responsible for beaches in this area, as well as those in Canada. At present there are no viable protocols in place to forecast beach closures in this region. Decisions on bathing risk are made >24 h after sampling due to the time required for water sampling and processing (incubation) to measure fecal indicator bacteria, typically E. coli.We propose a combination of computer modeling, field sampling during the summer bathing season, and laboratory analysis to develop a predictive model of beach health assessment.