Development of predictive models for determining enterococci levels at Gulf Coast beaches.
The US EPA BEACH Act requires beach managers to issue swimming advisories when water quality standards are exceeded. While a number of methods/models have been proposed to meet the BEACH Act requirement, no systematic comparisons of different methods against the same data series are available in terms of relative performance of existing methods. This study presents and compares three models for nowcasting and forecasting enterococci levels at Gulf Coast beaches in Louisiana, USA. One was developed using the artificial neural network (ANN) in MATLAB Toolbox and the other two were based on the US EPA Virtual Beach (VB) Program. A total of 944 sets of environmental and bacteriological data were utilized. The data were collected and analyzed weekly during the swimming season (May-October) at six sites of the Holly Beach by Louisiana Beach Monitoring Program in the six year period of May 2005-October 2010. The ANN model includes 15 readily available environmental variables such as salinity, water temperature, wind speed and direction, tide level and type, weather type, and various combinations of antecedent rainfalls. The ANN model was trained, validated, and tested using 308, 103, and 103 data sets (collected in 2007, 2008, and 2009) with an average linear correlation coefficient (LCC) of 0.857 and a Root Mean Square Error (RMSE) of 0.336. The two VB models, including a linear transformation-based model and a nonlinear transformation-based model, were constructed using the same data sets. The linear VB model with 6 input variables achieved an LCC of 0.230 and an RMSE of 1.302 while the nonlinear VB model with 5 input variables produced an LCC of 0.337 and an RMSE of 1.205. In order to assess the predictive performance of the ANN and VB models, hindcasting was conducted using a total of 430 sets of independent environmental and bacteriological data collected at six Holly Beach sites in 2005, 2006, and 2010. The hindcasting results show that the ANN model is capable of predicting enterococci levels at the Holly Beach sites with an adjusted RMSE of 0.803 and LCC of 0.320 while the adjusted RMSE and LCC values are 1.815 and 0.354 for the linear VB model and 1.961 and 0.521 for the nonlinear VB model. The results indicate that the ANN model with 15 parameters performs better than the VB models with 6 or 5 parameters in terms of RMSE while VB models perform better than the ANN model in terms of LCC. The predictive models (especially the ANN and the nonlinear VB models) developed in this study in combination with readily available real-time environmental and weather forecast data can be utilized to nowcast and forecast beach water quality, greatly reducing the potential risk of contaminated beach waters to human health and improving beach management. While the models were developed specifically for the Holly Beach, Louisiana, the methods used in this paper are generally applicable to other coastal beaches.
Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803-6405, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
SourceWater research 46:2 2012 Feb 1 pg 465-74
Neural Networks (Computer)
United States Environmental Protection Agency
Pub Type(s)Journal Article
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.