Quantifying the Environmental Impact of Pollutant Plumes from Coastal Rivers with Remote Sensing and River Basin Modelling

Quantifying the Environmental Impact of Pollutant Plumes from Coastal Rivers with Remote Sensing and River Basin Modelling

M. Lega T. Endreny 

Department of Engineering, University of Naples Parthenope, Italy

University of Naples Parthenope, Italy

SUNYESF, Syracuse, NY, USA

https://doi.org/ 10.2495/SDP-V11-N5-651-662
30 September 2016
| Citation



Coastal regions contaminated by polluted river water leaving inland river basins can be difficult to monitor due to their size and remoteness, but it is important to quantify the impact of such pollution to manage for coastal sustainability. In this research, we demonstrate how river plumes can be monitored and analysed by a combination of remote sensing and river basin modelling to estimate their spatial, temporal, and water quality characteristics. Our results show that multispectral remote sensing is able to differentiate the water quality characteristics and two-dimensional spatial characteristics between plumes from four discharge locations along the coast of Campania, Italy. Our results also show that river basin modelling, when informed by land cover, land use and wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) data, is able to estimate the plume volume, and pollutant load, attributed to rainfall-runoff and wastewater-discharge for each of the discharges. This research documents a new method for combining remote sensing and watershed modelling to quantify the environmental impact of pollution from coastal rivers.


environmental monitoring, polluted river, remote sensing, river basin modelling, river plumes, water quality


[1] Tappin, A.D. & Millward, G.E., The english channel: contamination status of its transitional and coastal waters. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 95(2), pp. 529–550, 2015. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2014.12.012

[2] Nunnally, C.C., Rowe, G.T., Thornton, D.C.O. & Quigg, A., Sedimentary oxygen consumption and nutrient regeneration in the northern gulf of mexico hypoxic zone. Journal of Coastal Research, pp. 84–96, 2013. http://dx.doi.org/10.2112/SI63-008.1

[3] Stark, J.S., Bridgen, P., Dunshea, G., Galton-Fenzi, B., Hunter, J., Johnstone, G., King, C., Leeming, R., Palmer, A., Smith, J., Snape, L., Stark, S. & Riddle, M., Dispersal and dilution of wastewater from an ocean outfall at davis station, Antarctica, and resulting environmental contamination. Chemosphere, 152, pp. 142–157, 2016. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2016.02.053

[4] Jiang, J.J., Lee, C-L., Fang, M-D., Tu, B-W. & Liang, Y-J., Impacts of emerging contaminants on surrounding aquatic environment from a youth festival. Environmental Science & Technology, 49(2), pp. 792–799, 2015. http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/es503944e

[5] Frias, J., Gago, J., Otero, V. & Sobral, P., Microplastics in coastal sediments from Southern Portuguese shelf waters. Marine Environmental Research, 114, pp. 24–30, 2016. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.marenvres.2015.12.006

[6] Restrepo, J.D., Park, E., Aquino, S. & Latrubesse, E.M., Coral reefs chronically exposed to river sediment plumes in the southwestern Caribbean: Rosario Islands, Colombia. Science of the Total Environment, 553, pp. 316–329, 2016. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.02.140

[7] Diaz, R.J. & Rosenberg, R., Marine benthic hypoxia: a review of its ecological effects and the behavioural responses of benthic macrofauna. In Oceanography and Marine Biology - an Annual Review, Vol 33, eds. Ansell, A.D., Gibson, R.N & Barnes, M.,U C L Press Ltd: London, pp. 245–303, 1995.

[8] Codd, G.A., Morrison, L.F. & Metcalf, J.S., Cyanobacterial toxins: risk management for health protection. Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, 203(3), pp. 264–272, 2005. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.taap.2004.02.016

[9] Hernandez-Delgado, E.A., The emerging threats of climate change on tropical coastal ecosystem services, public health, local economies and livelihood sustainability of small islands: cumulative impacts and synergies. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 101(1), pp. 5–28, 2015. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2015.09.018

[10] Patz, J.A., Vavrus, S.J., Uejio, C.K. & McLellan, S.L., Climate change and waterborne disease risk in the great lakes region of the US. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 35(5), pp. 451–458, 2008. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2008.08.026

[11] Guerry, A.D., Icarus and daedalus: conceptual and tactical lessons for marine ecosystem-based management. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 3(4), pp. 202–211, 2005. http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/1540-9295(2005)003[0202:IADCAT]2.0.CO;2

[12] Petus, C., Marieu, V., Novoa, S., Chust, G., Bruneau, N. & Froidefond, J.M., Monitoring spatio-temporal variability of the Adour River turbid plume (Bay of Biscay, France) with MODIS 250-m imagery. Continental Shelf Research, 74, pp. 35–49, 2014. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.csr.2013.11.011

[13] Devlin, M.J., Petus, C., Silva, E., Tracey, D., Wolff, N.H., Waterhouse, J. & Brodie, J., Water quality and river plume monitoring in the great barrier reef: an overview of methods based on ocean colour satellite data. Remote Sensing, 7(10), pp. 12909–12941, 2015. http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/rs71012909

[14] Horner-Devine, A.R., Hetland, R.D. & MacDonald, D.G., Mixing and transport in coastal river plumes. In Annual Review of Fluid Mechanics, Vol 47, eds. Davis, S.H & Moin, P. 569–594, 2015. http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev-fluid-010313-141408

[15] Shields, K., Fischer, A. & Burke, C., Toward an improved ecosystem based management approach: incorporating catchment characteristics into better management and planning of the Great Barrier Reef marine ecosystem. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, 58(7), pp. 1270–1290, 2015. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09640568.2014.921143

[16] Deycard, V.N., Schafer, J., Blanc, G., Coynel, A., Petit, J.C.J., Lanceleur, L., Dutruch, L., Bossy, C. & Venture, A., Contributions and potential impacts of seven priority substances (As, Cd, Cu, Cr, Ni, Pb, and Zn) to a major European Estuary (Gironde Estuary, France) from urban wastewater. Marine Chemistry, 167, pp. 123–134, 2014. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.marchem.2014.05.005

[17] Horner-Devine, A.R., Hetland, R.D. & MacDonald, D.G., Mixing and transport in coastal river plumes. Annual Review Of Fluid Mechanics, 47, pp. 569–594, 2015.

[18] USGS. Landsat 8: Instruments and Products. 2016; Available at: http://landsat.usgs.gov/landsat8.php

[19] ARPA Campania. Acque di Balneazione: mappa interattiva. 2016; Available at: http://balneazione.arpacampania.it/balneazione/index.asp

[20] Yang, Y., Endreny, T.A. & Nowak, D.J., i-tree hydro: snow hydrology update for the urban forest hydrology model. Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA), 47(6), pp. 1211–1218, 2011. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1752-1688.2011.00564.x

[21] ENEA. Progetto Regi Lagni: Volume 2 - Stato Della Qualità Delle Acque, Rapporto Sullo Stato Delle Infrastrutture Igienico-sanitarie. 2016; Available from: http://www.bologna.enea.it/ambtd/regi-lagni/volume-2/4-vol2-stato_infr-cuma.html.

[22] MinAmbiente. The National Geoportal: Visualizzatori Cartografici. 2016; Available at http://www.pcn.minambiente.it/GN/en/

[23] NASA JPL. Shuttle Radar Topography Mission 2016; Available from: http://www2.jpl. nasa.gov/srtm/cbanddataproducts.html

[24] Wang, J., Endreny, T.A. & Hassett, J.M., Power function decay of hydraulic conductivity for a TOPMODEL-based infiltration routine. Hydrological Processes, 20(18), pp. 3825–3834, 2006. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hyp.6159

[25] ClimateData.Org. Climate Data for Cities Worldwide. 2016. Available at: http://en.climate-data.org/

[26] Del Giudice, G., Padulano, R. & Rasulo, G., Spatial prediction of the runoff coefficient in Southern Peninsular Italy for the index flood estimation. Hydrology Research, 45(2), pp. 263–281, 2014. http://dx.doi.org/10.2166/nh.2013.243

[27] USEPA, Results of the Nationwide Urban Runoff Program: Volume 1 - Final Report. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Water Planning Division: Washington, DC, 1983.

[28] Kay, D., Crowther J., Stapleton, C.M., Wyer, M.D., Fewtrell, L., Anthony, S., Bradford, M., Edwards, A., Francis, C.A., Hopkins, M., Kay, C., McDonald, A.T., Watkins, J. & Wilkinson, J., Faecal indicator organism concentrations and catchment export coefficients in the UK. Water Research, 42(10–11), pp. 2649–2661, 2008. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.watres.2008.01.017

[29] Hu, C.M., A novel ocean color index to detect floating algae in the global oceans. Remote Sensing of Environment, 113(10), pp. 2118–2129, 2009. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.rse.2009.05.012

[30] Pavlidou, A., Anastasopoulou, E., Dassenakis, M., Hatzianestis, I., Paraskevopoulou, V., Simboura, N., Rousselaki, E. & Drakopoulou., Effects of olive oil wastes on river basins and an oligotrophic coastal marine ecosystem: a case study in Greece. Science of the Total Environment, 497, pp. 38–49, 2014. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2014.07.088

[31] Pereira, S.P., Rosman, P.C.C., Alvarez, C., Schetini, C.A.F., Souza, R.O. & Vieira, R.H.S.F., Modeling of coastal water contamination in Fortaleza (Northeastern Brazil). Water Science and Technology, 72(6), pp. 928–936, 2015. http://dx.doi.org/10.2166/wst.2015.292

[32] Errico, A., Angelino, C.V., Cicala, L., Persechino, G., Ferrara, C., Lega, M., Vallario, A., Parente, C., Masi, G., Gaetano, R., Scarpa, G., Amitrano, D., Ruello, G., Verdoliva, L. & Poggi, G., Detection of environmental hazards through the feature-based fusion of optical and SAR data: a case study in southern Italy. International Journal of Remote Sensing, 36(13), pp. 3345–3367, 2015. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01431161.2015.1054960

[33] Lega, M. & Napoli, R.M.A., A new approach to solid waste landfills aerial monitoring. WIT Transactions on Ecology and the Environment, 109, pp. 193–199, 2008. http://dx.doi.org/10.2495/WM080211

[34] Persechino, G., Lega, M., Romano, G., Gargiulo, F. & Cicala, L., An advanced tool to investigate illegal dumping. WIT Transactions on Ecology and the Environment, 173, pp. 603–614, 2013.

[35] Lega, M. & Persechino, G., GIS and infrared aerial view: advanced tools for the early detection of environmental violations. WIT Transactions on Ecology and the Environment, 180, pp. 225–235, 2014. http://dx.doi.org/10.2495/WM140191

[36] Lega, M., d’Antonio, L. & Napoli, R.M.A., Cultural heritage and waste heritage: advanced techniques to preserve cultural heritage, exploring just in time the ruins produced by disasters and natural calamities. WIT Transactions on Ecology and the Environment, 140, pp. 123–134, 2010. http://dx.doi.org/10.2495/WM100121