Microbial water pollution: a screening tool for initial catchment-scale assessment and source apportionment

D. Kay, S. Anthony, J. Crowther, B. J. Chambers, F. A. Nicholson, D. Chadwick, C. M. Stapleton, M. D. Wyer

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46 Citations (SciVal)


The European Union Water Framework Directive requires that Management Plans are developed for individual River Basin Districts. From the point of view of faecal indicator organisms (FlOs), there is a critical need for screening tools that can provide a rapid assessment of the likely FIO concentrations and fluxes within catchments under base- and high-flow conditions, and of the balance ('source apportionment') between agriculture- and sewage-derived sources Accordingly, the present paper reports on (1) the development of preliminary generic models, using water quality and land cover data from previous UK catchment studies for assessing FIO concentrations, fluxes and source apportionment within catchments during the summer bathing season, (2) the calibration of national land use data, against data previously used in the models; and (3) provisional FIO concentration and source-apportionment assessments for England and Wales. The models clearly highlighted the crucial importance of high-flow conditions for the flux of FlOs within catchments At high flow, improved grassland (and associated livestock) was the key FIO source, FIO loadings derived from catchments with high proportions of improved grassland were shown to be as high as from urbanised catchments, and in many rural catchments, especially in NW and SW England and Wales, which are important areas of lowland livestock (especially dairy) farming, >= 40% of FlOs was assessed to be derived from agricultural sources In contrast, under base-flow conditions, when there was little or no runoff from agricultural land, urban (i e sewerage-related) sources were assessed to dominate, and even in rural areas the majority of FlOs were attributed to urban sources The results of the study demonstrate the potential of this type of approach, particularly in light of climate change and the likelihood of more high-flow events, in underpinning informed policy development and prioritisation of investment (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5649-5656
Number of pages8
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - 01 Nov 2010


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