AbstractsBiology & Animal Science

Dynamics of microbial pollution in aquatic systems

by Matthew Richard Hipsey

Institution: University of Adelaide
Year: 2007
Keywords: aquatic ecology, microbial ecology, aquatic microbiology, freshwater ecology, water quality; Aquatic ecology; Water  – Microbiology; Freshwater ecology; Microbial ecology; Water quality
Record ID: 1035057
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/2440/37890


Microbial pollution of surface waters and coastal zones is one of the foremost challenges facing the water industry and regulatory authorities. Yet despite the concern and increasing pressures on water resources in both developed and developing countries, understanding of microbial pollutants in the aquatic environment is fairly scattered. There is a need for an improved ability to quantify the processes that control the fate and distribution of enteric organisms to support decision - making and risk management activities. The aim of this thesis has been to advance the understanding of the dynamics of microbial pollution in aquatic systems through review, experimentation and numerical modelling. Initially, a new module for simulating the protozoan pathogen, Cryptosporidium, was developed and implemented within a three - dimensional ( 3D ) coupled hydrodynamic - water quality model ( ELCOMCAEDYM ). The coupled 3D model was validated against a comprehensive dataset collected in Myponga Reservoir ( South Australia ), and without calibration, performed to a high degree of accuracy. The investigation then sought to examine the experimental dataset in more detail and found a significant difference between protozoan pathogens and the bacterial and viral indicators. To examine the role of bacterial association with particles in more detail, a second experimental campaign was carried out in Sugarloaf Reservoir ( Victoria ). This campaign was used to gain insights into the association of coliform bacteria with suspended sediment and to quantify their sedimentation dynamics based on in situ measurements. Using an inverse technique, particle profile data was used to create a simple Lagrangian model that was applied to back - calculate the sedimentation rates of the coliform bacteria and the fraction that were attached to the particles. The results indicated that 80 - 100 % were associated with a small - sized clay fraction. This result was in contrast with the Cryptosporidium dynamics in Myponga Reservoir, where it was concluded that oocysts did not settle with the inorganic particles. These findings indicated the current models for simulating the array of organisms of interest to regulatory authorities are inadequate to resolve the level of detail necessary for useful predictions and risk management. Large differences between the protozoa, bacteria and phages were being observed due to different particle association rates and sedimentation dynamics, order of magnitude differences in natural mortality rates, and different sensitivity to sunlight bandwidths. The original model implemented within CAEDYM was therefore rewritten to be more complete and generic for all microbial pollutants and different types of aquatic systems. The model was built using a generic set of parameterizations that describe the dynamics of most protozoan, bacterial and viral organisms of interest. The parameterizations dynamically account for sensitivities to environmental conditions, including temperature, salinity, pH, dissolved oxygen, sunlight,…