Release of Escherichia coli from Foreshore Sand and Pore Water during Intensified Wave Conditions at a Recreational Beach Academic Article uri icon

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  • Foreshore beach sands and pore water may act as a reservoir and nonpoint source of fecal indicator bacteria (FIB) to surface waters. This paper presents data collected at a fine sand beach on Lake Huron, Canada over three field events. The data show that foreshore sand erosion as wave height increases results in elevated Escherichia coli concentrations in surface water, as well as depletion of E. coli from the foreshore sand and pore water. E. coli initially attached to foreshore sand rather than initially residing in the pore water was found to be the main contributor to elevated surface water concentrations. Surface water E. coli concentrations were a function of not only wave height (and associated sand erosion) but also the time elapsed since a preceding period of high wave intensity. This finding is important for statistical regression models used to predict beach advisories. While calculations suggest that foreshore sand erosion may be the dominant mechanism for releasing E. coli to surface water during intensified wave conditions at a fine sand beach, comparative characterization of the E. coli distribution at a coarse sand-cobble beach suggests that interstitial pore water flow and discharge may be more important for coarser sand beaches.


  • Vogel, Laura J
  • O’Carroll, Denis M
  • Edge, Thomas
  • Robinson, Clare E

publication date

  • June 7, 2016