Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2016

Degree Name

MA (Master of Arts)

Degree In


First Advisor

Bennett, David

First Committee Member

Sander, Heather

Second Committee Member

Skopec, Mary

Third Committee Member

Schnoor, Jerald L.


Fecal contamination of Iowa recreational water bodies poses a threat to water quality as well as human health. Concern regarding the health effects of waterborne pathogens resulted in 149 beach advisories across 39 state-owned beaches during the 2015 beach season alone. While the presence of pollution is often clear, its cause and source may be difficult to identify. Furthermore, the current practice in Iowa of sampling once per week leads to high uncertainty and inadequately protects swimmers from exposure.

The objective of this study was to determine the influential environmental factors and sources causing spikes in fecal contamination at F.W. Kent Park Lake in Oxford, IA, and to develop a predictive model of beach E. coli concentrations. Water samples were collected at the swimming beach as well as throughout the watershed from May to October, 2015. All samples were analyzed for Escherichia Coli using the IDEXX Colilert enumeration method. Together with weekly data from 2012 through 2014, two predictive models of E. coli based upon influential environmental and water quality variables were developed using EPA Virtual Beach software. These models proved to be more accurate than the current method used to assess risks to swimmers that assumes bacterial concentrations remain constant between samples. In addition, through statistical analysis and modeling, this study found evidence that the main source of fecal contamination were wild geese that frequent the beach.


Bacteria, Beach, Escherichia Coli, Predictive modeling, Public Health, Water Quality


ix, 71 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 66-71).


Copyright 2016 Reid A. Simmer

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