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Environ Sci Technol. 2013 Jun 18;47(12):6146-54. doi: 10.1021/es400572k. Epub 2013 Jun 4.

Beach nourishment impacts on bacteriological water quality and phytoplankton bloom dynamics.

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Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California 92093, United States.


A beach nourishment with approximately 1/3 fine-grained sediment (fines; particle diameter <63 μm) by mass was performed at Southern California's Border Fields State Park (BFSP). The nourishment was found to briefly (<1 day) increase concentrations of surf-zone fecal indicator bacteria (FIB) above single-sample public health standards [104 most probable number (MPN)·(100 mL)(-1)] but had no effect on phytoplankton. Contamination was constrained to the nourishment site: waters 300 m north or south of the nourishment were always below single-sample and geometric mean [≤ 35 MPN · (100 mL)(-1)] standards. Nourishment fines were identified as a source of the fecal indicator Enterococcus ; correlations between fines and enterococci were significant (p < 0.01), and generalized linear model analysis identified fines as the single best predictor of enterococci. Microcosm experiments and field sampling suggest that the short surf-zone residence times observed for enterococci (e-folding time 4 h) resulted from both rapid, postplacement FIB inactivation and mixing/transport by waves and alongshore currents. Nourishment fines were phosphate-rich/nitrogen-poor and were not correlated with surf-zone phytoplankton concentrations, which may have been nitrogen-limited.

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