Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researcher Develops Model to Track E. coli in Charles River

05.05.2008
It is a common belief that the water quality of the Charles River and other lakes, streams and rivers is at its worst after a large rainfall because of pollutants carried by runoff.

However, a recent study completed by researchers at Northeastern University in Boston found high concentrations of E. coli bacteria in the Charles River after a long period of no rain.

Ferdi Hellweger, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Acting Director of the Center for Urban Environmental Studies, both at Northeastern, used high-resolution monitoring and modeling to understand the fate and transport of E. coli bacteria in the lower section of the Charles River to determine what factors may lead to the increased concentration.

The results, which were published in the April issue of the Journal of the American Water Resources Association, go above and beyond the current data available about the water quality in the Charles and have the potential to impact the location of future beaches and their management.

Because current monitoring programs do not resolve the small-scale patterns of E. coli, Hellweger and his team carried out a high-resolution monitoring program. Using spatial and temporal surveys at different intervals and locations, Hellweger and his team gathered 757 samples along transects across and along the river, and over time at a fixed location. The results indicated an increased concentration of E. coli after a period of little rainfall.

To make sense of these results, they developed a mathematical model of the river. The model accounts for various drivers, including upstream and downstream flow, wind, combined sewer overflow (CSO) and non-CSO flow from two major tributaries, the Muddy River and the Stony Brook. Based on hydrodynamics and die-off kinetics, the model reproduced the general patterns of E. coli in the water over space and time.

“Our analysis suggests that the Stony Brook and Muddy River are the predominant sources of E. coli in the lower Charles River,” said Hellweger, whose interest in urban hydrology drove this research project. “However, it is important to determine where the bacteria go and their concentration at different times and locations.”

One surprising finding was the effect of the New Charles River Dam, which when open, allows the Charles River to flow downstream and empty into the Boston Harbor. When it is closed, however, the Charles River acts more like a lake or a reservoir, creating a static environment. Thus, in addition to rainfall, the Dam operation cycle does affect the level of bacteria in the Charles River.

“Our study results show that water quality in the Charles River is impacted by several factors, including the New Charles River Dam,” added Hellweger. “While the primary focus of the Dam is to control flooding and navigation, I think that taking water quality issues into account could help reduce public health risk to present boaters and future beachgoers in the Charles,” added Hellweger.

Their model can be used to predict water quality in the lower Charles River, which can be used to evaluate various management scenarios and assess public health risk to swimmers at different times and locations.

In a 2002 study, 25% of surveyed beaches had at least one advisory or area closed, mostly due to unsafe levels of certain forms of bacteria. Exposure to unsafe levels of bacterial can sometimes result in recreational water illnesses (RWI), causing diarrhea, respiratory, skin, ear and eye infections.

Water pollution continues to be a public health threat, and because the Summer is quickly approaching, there will be a heightened interest in protecting people who spend time in the water. “My goal is to help make the Charles River a place where people can swim safely,” said Hellweger.

About Northeastern

Founded in 1898, Northeastern University is a private research university located in the heart of Boston. Northeastern is a leader in interdisciplinary research, urban engagement, and the integration of classroom learning with real-world experience. The university’s distinctive cooperative education program, where students alternate semesters of full-time study with semesters of paid work in fields relevant to their professional interests and major, is one of the largest and most innovative in the world. The University offers a comprehensive range of undergraduate and graduate programs leading to degrees through the doctorate in six undergraduate colleges, eight graduate schools, and two part-time divisions.

Fred McGrail | newswise
Further information:
http://www.northeastern.edu/

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht A new indicator for marine ecosystem changes: the diatom/dinoflagellate index
21.08.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde

nachricht Value from wastewater
16.08.2017 | Hochschule Landshut

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Nagoya physicists resolve long-standing mystery of structure-less transition

21.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

Chronic stress induces fatal organ dysfunctions via a new neural circuit

21.08.2017 | Health and Medicine

Scientists from the MSU studied new liquid-crystalline photochrom

21.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>