Impact of the Linked Surface Water-Soil Water-Groundwater System on Transport of E. coli in the Subsurface Academic Article uri icon


  • 2016, Springer International Publishing Switzerland. Escherichia coli (E. coli) contamination of groundwater (GW) and surface water (SW) occurs significantly through the subsurface from onsite wastewater treatment systems (OWTSs). However, E. coli transport in the subsurface remains inadequately characterized at the field scale, especially within the vadose zone. Therefore, the aim of this research is to investigate the impact of groundwater fluctuations (e.g., recharging, discharging conditions) and variable conditions in the vadose zone (e.g., pulses of E. coli flux) by characterizing E. coli fate and transport in a linked surface water-soil water-groundwater system (SW-SoW-GW). In particular, this study characterizes the impact of flow regimes on E. coli transport in the subsurface and evaluates the sensitivity of parameters that control the transport of E. coli in the SW-SoW-GW system. This study was conducted in Lake Granbury, which is an important water supply in north-central Texas providing water for over 250,000 people. Results showed that there was less removal of E. coli during groundwater recharge events as compared to GW discharge events. Also, groundwater and surface water systems largely control E. coli transport in the subsurface; however, temporal variability of E. coli can be explained by linking the SW-SoW-GW system. Moreover, sensitivity analysis revealed that saturated water content of the soil, total retention rate coefficient, and hydraulic conductivity are important parameters for E. coli transport in the subsurface.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Dwivedi, D., Mohanty, B. P., & Lesikar, B. J.

citation count

  • 24

complete list of authors

  • Dwivedi, Dipankar||Mohanty, Binayak P||Lesikar, Bruce J

publication date

  • September 2016