A water quality modeling study of non-point sources at recreational marine beaches

Xiaofang Zhu, John D. Wang, Helena M. Solo-Gabriele, Lora E. Fleming

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


A model study was conducted to understand the influence of non-point sources including bather shedding, animal fecal sources, and near shore sand, as well as the impact of the environmental conditions, on the fate and transport of the indicator microbe, enterococci, at a subtropical recreational marine beach in South Florida. The model was based on an existing finite element hydrodynamic and transport model, with the addition of a first order microbe deactivation function due to solar radiation. Results showed that dog fecal events had a major transient impact (hundreds of Colony Forming Units/100 ml [CFU/100 ml]) on the enterococci concentration in a limited area within several hours, and could partially explain the high concentrations observed at the study beach. Enterococci released from beach sand during high tide caused mildly elevated concentration for a short period of time (ten to twenty of CFU/100 ml initially, reduced to 2 CFU/100 ml within 4 h during sunny weather) similar to the average baseline numbers observed at the beach. Bather shedding resulted in minimal impacts (less than 1 CFU/100 ml), even during crowded holiday weekends. In addition, weak current velocity near the beach shoreline was found to cause longer dwelling times for the elevated concentrations of enterococci, while solar deactivation was found to be a strong factor in reducing these microbial concentrations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2985-2995
Number of pages11
JournalWater Research
Issue number9
StatePublished - Apr 2011


  • Bather
  • Enterococci
  • Fecal indicator
  • Model
  • Non-point source
  • Recreational beach water quality
  • Sand

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Ecological Modeling


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