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SOUTHPORT HARBOR HYDRODYNAMIC AND POLLUTANT TRANSPORT MODELING STUDY

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Recreational shellfish beds in the Southport Beach area of Southport Harbor, Connecticut are impacted by elevated levels of fecal coliform bacteria and have thus been included on Connecticut's 2004 List of Impaired Waters. The impairment is due to exceedances of the State water quality standard for fecal coliforms of 14/100mL (geometric mean). However, the location and relative contribution of bacteria sources that result in elevated levels of bacteria have not yet been characterized and quantified. The purpose of this study was to determine the location and relative contribution of bacteria sources responsible for closure of recreational shellfish beds in Southport Harbor and to demonstrate a prototype model system that can be applied to other shellfishing waters impaired by bacteria.

An integrated hydro and pollutant transport modeling framework was used to identify the location and evaluate the distribution of bacteria sources responsible for closure of the recreational shellfish beds. To support the model's data needs, a field program was performed that included physical and chemical measurements (water elevation, currents, salinity, temperature), bacterial measurements (fecal coliforms) and dye studies for two suspected sources. The hydrodynamic model was applied to the greater Southport Harbor estuary, was calibrated to field data, and provided currents over time and space for use in the subsequent pollutant transport calculations. Two different pollutant transport modeling approaches were used: an Eulerian concentration-based calculation and a Lagrangian particle-based calculation. The Lagrangian particle-based model can be run both forward and backward in time. In the forward mode the model forecasts the evolution of pollutant plumes from specified source locations. In the backward mode the model hindcasts the likely source locations that would affect a specified resource area, in this case the Southport Beach shellfish bed. Collectively, the integrated model system can be used to identify the location and relative contribution of sources that result in elevated fecal coliform densities over the shellfish beds in Southport Harbor and can be thought of as a numerical source tracking approach.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2005-01-01

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