This study is focused on the investigation of the sources, distribution and fate of fecal coliform populations in the North Fork of the New River that flows through the City of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA. The dynamics of this brackish river are driven by weak tides, regulated freshwater discharges, overland runoff, storm water drainage from sewers, and groundwater exchange. Extensive field studies failed to document any alleged source(s) of contamination, including birds, domesticated and undomesticated mammals, humans, septic tank leakage, urban runoff, non-point discharges from agricultural lands, waste disposal from live-aboard vessels and/or in situ re-growth of fecal coliform. In order to facilitate field sampling, and support the data analyses efforts, computer simulations were applied to assess the likelihood of the various possible pollution scenarios. The physically based computer model used is the WASP (Water Quality Analysis Simulation Program Modeling System) of the US Environmental Protection Agency. In addition, the Neural Network MATLAB Toolbox was utilized for data analysis. WASP was able to accurately simulate the water hydrodynamics and coliform concentrations within the North Fork, while the neural network assisted in identifying correlations between fecal coliform and the various parameters involved. The numerical results supported the conclusion that fecal coliform were introduced by the animal populations along the riverbanks and by storm water washout of the adjacent drainage basins and the banks. The problem is exaggerated due to the low flashing capacity of the river.

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