Modeling the impact of body-contact recreation on pathogen concentrations in a source drinking water reservoir

Michael A. Anderson, Mic H. Stewart, Marylynn V. Yates, Charles P. Gerba

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


A modeling study was conducted to evaluate the impact of body-contact recreation (e.g., water skiing, jet skiing, swimming) on pathogen concentrations in a source drinking water reservoir under construction in eastern Riverside County in Southern California. A hybridized Monte Carlo-finite segment model was used to predict pathogen concentrations in the reservoir resulting from pathogen inputs associated with shed fecal material and accidental fecal releases (AFRs). Monte Carlo techniques were incorporated into the finite segment model to define characteristics about individual recreators which affect pathogen loading to the reservoir (e.g., infection, pathogen shedding rate, location). Results of simulations are provided in the form of cumulative distribution and probability density functions derived from uncertainty analyses. The model predicted considerable spatial and temporal variability in pathogen concentrations within the reservoir, with elevated levels of Cryptosporidium, rotavirus, and poliovirus in the epilimnion during periods of high recreational use. Predicted Giardia concentrations were lower than the other pathogens. Hypolimnetic concentrations of all pathogens were generally 1-3 orders of magnitude lower than the overlying epilimnetic concentrations. Model results also suggest that field sampling will underestimate the mean, range and variance of pathogen concentrations in the reservoir. The model was further modified to include a particle tracking scheme to allow for transport of aggregated fecal material. Results from simulations using this approach demonstrate a potential for high pathogen loads due to body-contact recreation periodically reaching treatment plants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3293-3306
Number of pages14
JournalWater research
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1998


  • Cryptosporidium
  • Giardia
  • Modelling
  • Poliovirus
  • Recreation
  • Rotavirus
  • Water quality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Pollution
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering


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