Civil Engineering ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 7-15-2018


In this work I examined how Fecal indicator Bacteria (FIB) behave in a large environmental system (Rio Grande near Albuquerque, ~60 km distance). I addressed the questions: How do FIB levels in river water and riverbed sediments of this reach change with distance along the river and throughout one year?

I conducted year-round river water and sediment sampling for concentration of E. coli bacteria, a persistent contaminant in the area. I found that over the year, E. coli loading in river water increased along the 60 km reach and E. coli in the sediments mainly increased near the Albuquerque urban area. Site by site along the reach, relative fluctuations in E. coli loadings and sediment concentrations were seasonally coupled.

This study found high E. coli sediment concentrations during Summer and Fall co-occur with higher Summer and Fall loadings, and higher E. coli sediment concentrations downstream may be related to more frequent exceedances of the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) in the downstream section. However, the net direction of E. coli transfer (river water to sediment or sediment to river water) is unknown at any point and the physical interactions between river water and sediment causing transfer of E. coli cells are not well understood on the reach-scale.


E. coli, Fecal Indicator Bacteria, surface water quality, non-point sources

Document Type




Degree Name

Civil Engineering

Level of Degree


Department Name

Civil Engineering

First Committee Member (Chair)

Ricardo Gonzalez-Pinzon

Second Committee Member

Bruce Thomson

Third Committee Member

Patrick Chavez