Characterization of Nearshore Bathymetry and Longshore Current Velocity in Relation to Estimating the Potential for Nearshore Transport of Sediment and Bacteria Loads From Walnut Creek to Presque Isle State Park Beaches, Erie, Pennsylvania
Bacteria-driven restrictions and (or) advisories on swimming at beaches in Presque Isle State Park (PISP), Erie, Pennsylvania, can occur during the summer months. One of the suspected sources of bacteria is sediment. A terrestrial sediment source to the west of PISP is Walnut Creek, which discharges to Lake Erie about 8.5 kilometers southwest of PISP Beach 1. On June 24, June 25, August 18, and August 19, 2015, synoptic surveys were conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Sea Grant, in Lake Erie between Walnut Creek and PISP Beach 1 to characterize the water-current velocity and direction to determine whether sediment from Walnut Creek could be affecting the PISP beaches. Water-quality data (temperature, specific conductance, and turbidity) were collected in conjunction with the synoptic surveys in June. Water-quality data (Escherichia coli [E. coli] bacteria, temperature, and turbidity) were collected about a meter from the shore (nearshore) on June 24, August 19, and after a precipitation event on August 11, 2015. Additionally, suspended sediment was collected nearshore on June 24 and August 11, 2015. Samples collected near Walnut Creek during all three bacterial sampling events contained higher counts than other samples. Counts steadily decreased from west to east, then increased about 1–2 kilometers from PISP Beach 1; however, this study was not focused on examining other potential sources of bacteria.
The Velocity Mapping Toolbox (VMT) was used to process the water-current synoptic surveys, and the results were visualized within ArcMap. For the survey accomplished on June 24, 2015, potential paths a particle could take between Walnut Creek and PSIP Beach 1 if conditions remained steady over a number of hours were visualized. However, the water-current velocity and direction were variable from one day to the other, indicating this was likely an unrealistic assumption for the study area. This analysis was not accomplished for the other surveys due to unsteady lake conditions encountered on June 25 and August 18, and reduced quality of the survey on August 19.