, Volume 215, Issue 1-4, pp 155-176
Date: 19 May 2010

Model Assessment of Cattle and Climate Impacts on Stream Fecal Coliform Pollution in the Salmon River Watershed, British Columbia, Canada

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Abstract

A bacterial water quality model (BWQM) was developed and used to evaluate the impacts of cattle farming and climate change on the stream fecal coliform pollution in the Salmon River watershed in south-central British Columbia, Canada. The accuracy of the model simulation was evaluated using the Nash-Sutcliffe coefficient of efficiency (COE). The BWQM simulated the observed field data well, with the values of the COE ranging from 0.76 to 0.78 for the stream flow, from 0.55 to 0.60 for the fecal coliform (FC) concentration, and from 0.85 to 0.89 for the FC loading. The BWQM captured more than 79%, 66%, and 90% variation of the daily stream flow, FC concentration, and FC loading, respectively. The BWQM predicts that between 70% and 80% of the FC were transferred from the cattle farm to the Salmon River through the snowmelt-caused surface runoff during late winter and early spring, with the balance 20% to 30% coming from the soil-lateral flow and the groundwater return flow. The model also indicates that the stream FC concentration is sensitive to the distance of the cattle farm to the Salmon River. The model scenario analysis reveals that the climate change, at an assumed 1°C increment of daily air temperature, results in an increase in the stream FC concentration in the spring, fall, and winter, but there is also a decrease in the summer. The increased air temperature also changes the seasonal pattern of the stream FC concentration. Rainfall can reduce the stream FC concentration and mitigate the impact of the increased air temperature on the stream FC concentration as long as it does not result in a surface runoff or flooding event.