Microbiological water quality in urban coastal beaches: the influence of water dynamics and optimization of the sampling strategy

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Journal: Water Res 2003/09/27
Published: 2003
Authors: Bordalo, A. A.
Address: Laboratory of Hydrobiology, Institute of Biomedical Sciences, Lg. Abel Salazar, 2, 4099-003 Porto, Portugal. bordalo@icbas.up.pt

In the summer 2001, the microbiological water quality of two contiguous urban coastal beaches (Porto, Portugal) was surveyed for 18 consecutive days. The sampling strategy consisted in sampling surface water in early morning, noon and afternoon. A total of 184 samples were processed at Pastoras beach, a confined area between two jetties, and Ourigo Beach more open to the ocean. At the first beach site, all samples exceeded fecal contamination above guide values (GV) and 82.6% above mandatory values (MV) set out in the EU Bathing Water Directive; whereas at Pastoras Beach, the figures were 93.5% for GV and 26.1% for MV, showing a potential health risk. The periodicity of fecal indicators in raw sewage, the tidal status and wind conditions dramatically influenced the water quality. The quality decreased in the morning regardless of tide conditions, but improved subsequently during the day, particularly during high tide and under the influence of afternoon NW winds. These dynamics are incompatible with the fortnight routine sampling according to the recommendations of the EU Bathing Water Directive, and the strategy should be revised on a beach-to-beach basis, having in mind the profile for the coastal zone.

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