The microbiological quality of waters in estuaries determines their acceptability for recreational uses. Microbiological contamination often results from urban wastewater discharges or non-point source pollution (manure spreading), and can cause bathing zones to be closed. European regulations (EC/7/2006) have proposed standards (500 E. coli/100 ml) for the acceptability areas for bathing. In this study, two models were associated to simulate contamination: SWAT on a catchment and MARS 2D in the downstream estuary. After river flow calibration and validation, two scenarios were simulated in SWAT, and E. coli fluxes obtained at the main outlet of the catchment were then introduced into MARS 2D to follow E. coli concentrations in the estuary. An annual evaluation of compliance to bathing area water quality standards was then calculated, linked with daily rainfall classes. Water quality in the estuary was below the standard on 13 days, including 5 days with rainfall superior to 10 mm, due to faecal contamination from soil leaching by rain, and 5 days with rainfall ranging from 0.1 to 5 mm/day, due to the high frequency of this level of rainfall. To conclude, this study allowed us to demonstrate the efficiency of models to gain a better understanding on water quality degradation factors.
Keywords: bathing areas, compliance evaluation, E. coli, modeling, rainfall