Oliver D, Porter K, Pachepsky YA, Muirhead RW, Reaney SM, Coffey R, Kay D, Milledge DG, Hong E, Anthony SG, Page T, Bloodworth JW, Mellander P, Carbonneau PE, McGrane SJ & Quilliam R (2016) Predicting microbial water quality with models: Over-arching questions for managing risk in agricultural catchments. Science of the Total Environment, 544, pp. 39-47. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.11.086
The application of models to predict concentrations of faecal indicator organisms (FIOs) in environmental systems plays an important role for guiding decision-making associated with the management of microbial water quality. In recent years there has been an increasing demand by policy-makers for models to help inform FIO dynamics in order to prioritise efforts for environmental and human-health protection. However, given the limited evidence-base on which FIO models are built relative to other agricultural pollutants (e.g. nutrients) it is imperative that the end-user expectations of FIO models are appropriately managed. In response, this commentary highlights four over-arching questions associated with: (i) model purpose; (ii) modelling approach; (iii) data availability; and (iv) model application, that must be considered as part of good practice prior to the deployment of any modelling approach to predict FIO behaviour in catchment systems. A series of short and longer-term research priorities are proposed in response to these questions in order to promote better model deployment in the field of catchment microbial dynamics.
Science of the Total Environment: Volume 544