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COMBINING SOURCE-SPECIFIC INDICATOR ORGANISMS, GIS, AND PUBLIC INTERACTION IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF A GIS-BASED WATERSHED MODELING TOOL

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Abstract:

A project combining experimental work, quantitative analyses, modeling, and public interaction in order to identify non-point source pollution source-areas in the Wachusett Reservoir, MA, is in its initial stages. Of particular interest are source-areas that pose a significant risk for the transmittal of human infectious pathogens to drinking water supplies. Methodologies for differentiating between agricultural and infrastructure (i.e.: septic and sewer system) causes of water quality impairment are of particular interest in New England, where farms are generally located in “mixed-use” land-use areas. The interspacing of agricultural and residential areas makes the identification of source areas particularly problematic in these regions. The uniqueness of this study lies in the combination of (1) emerging source-specific indicator organism water-quality monitoring techniques and (2) fully integrated, grid-based, distributed hydrologic modeling capabilities into a single GIS-based watershed management tool. It is proposed that the combination of these two elements will produce a much more powerful contaminant transport modeling tool than more simplistic statistical models, traditional watershedscale loading models, or coupled distributed hydrologic-nutrient models. Incorporation of a public policy component will further strengthen the potential of the resulting model as a watershed management tool. This component will weigh scientific estimates of contamination risk by the public perception of risk and, more importantly, willingness to implement solutions. While the current work focuses on identification of pathogen source-areas in the Wachusett Reservoir, the proposed watershed-modeling framework is of relevance for watershed assessment and total maximum daily load (TMDL) development of additional water quality parameters.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.2175/193864700785149189

Publication date: 2000-01-01

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