The Use of Decision Analysis and Watershed Modeling to Investigate E.coli Potential Sources and Solutions in Lake Tuscaloosa Watershed, Alabama
Lake Tuscaloosa, an artificial impoundment that serves as a public water supply, is located in Tuscaloosa and Fayette counties in the State of Alabama, in the Southeastern United States. Recent studies and monitoring of the lake show high levels of E.coli bacteria in the upper parts of the lake (near the main stream entrances) during periods of high stream flow. These high levels of E.coli are a concern for many different interested parties in the area. The city is under pressure to strengthen its management, monitoring, and control of existing and future pollutant sources (mostly land development) around the lake that is in its jurisdiction. Additionally, the city has to consider other sources of bacteria in the atershed outside of its jurisdiction as potential causes of these elevated bacteria levels.
The decision analysis framework and modeling schemes developed as part of this research examine flow, E.coli sources and transport issues, along with potential solutions. The decision analysis framework assisted at different stages of the project during the collection and management of the information that helped in the analysis of the problems and solutions. The flow and E.coli watershed models assisted in the analysis of the available data for the watershed to identify locations, seasons, and flow ranges. Developing a strategy to maintain the E.coli levels below the permissible limits in the watershed was challenging because many factors and information were needed for consideration during the data analysis and decision making parts of the research.
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