Author(s): Meredith B Nevers, Richard L Whitman, Walter E Frick, Zhongfu Ge
The impact of river outfalls on beach water quality depends on numerous interacting factors. The delivery of contaminants by multiple creeks greatly complicates understanding of the source contributions, especially when pollution might originate up- or down-coast of beaches. We studied two beaches along Lake Michigan that are located between two creek outfalls to determine the hydrometeorologic factors influencing near-shore microbiologic water quality and the relative impact of the creeks. The creeks continuously delivered water with high concentrations of Escherichia coli to Lake Michigan, and the direction of transport of these bacteria was affected by current direction. Current direction reversals were associated with elevated E. coli concentrations at Central Avenue beach. Rainfall, barometric pressure, wave height, wave period, and creek specific conductance were significantly related to E. coli concentration at the beaches and were the parameters used in predictive models that best described E. coli variation at the two beaches. Multiple inputs to numerous beaches complicates the analysis and understanding of the relative relationship of sources but affords opportunities for showing how these complex creek inputs might interact to yield collective or individual effects on beach water quality.