Uncertainty evaluation of coliform bacteria removal from Vegetated filter strip under overland flow condition

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Vegetated filter strips (VFS) have become an important component of water quality improvement by reducing sediment and nutrients transport to surface water. This management practice is also beneficial for controlling manure-borne pathogen transport to surface water. The objective of this work was to assess the VFS efficiency and evaluate the uncertainty in predicting the microbial pollutant removal from overland flow in VFS. We used the kinematic wave overland flow model as implemented in KINEROS2 coupled with the convective-dispersive overland transport model which accounts for the reversible attachment-detachment and surface straining of infiltrating bacteria. The model was successfully calibrated with experimental data obtained from a series of simulated rainfall experiments at vegetated and bare sandy loam and clay loam plots, where fecal coliforms were released from manure slurry applied on the top of the plots. The calibrated model was then used to assess the sensitivity of the VFS efficiency to the model parameters, rainfall duration, and intensity for a case study with a 6-m VFS placed at the edge of 200-m long field. The Monte Carlo simulations were also performed to evaluate the uncertainty associated with the VFS efficiency given the uncertainty in the model parameters and key inputs. The VFS efficiency was found to be <95% in 25%, <75% in 23%, and <25% in 20% of cases. Relatively long high-intensity rainfalls, low hydraulic conductivities, low net capillary drives of soil, and high soil moisture contents before rainfalls caused the partial failure of VFS to retain coliforms from the infiltration excess runoff.

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