Microbial contamination and management scenarios in a Mediterranean coastal lagoon (Etang de Thau, France): application of a Decision Support System within the Integrated Coastal Zone Management context


1 - In the Thau lagoon (Southern Mediterranean Coast) the main anthropogenic pressure is represented by the urban development in the watershed, whilst oyster and mussel farming represents one of the main economical activities in the region. 2 - During the last decade, the increasing organic loads from watershed and urban settlements in the lagoon surroundings have caused a diffuse contamination by faecal bacteria. Also toxic algal blooms have been occurring, impairing water quality with major impacts on shellfish farming, fishery and bathing. 3 - In this study, indicators and scenarios identified for the lagoon have been integrated in a Decision Support System (DSS) to evaluate the best solutions for reducing pressures and improving both water quality and ecosystem status. 4 - The watershed has been analysed with reference to indicators of pollution sources and transfer rates to the lagoon. In parallel, socio-economic indicators and descriptors of urban growth and development have been assessed. Numerical models have been run in order to simulate the lagoon hydrodynamics in relation to both meteorological factors and watershed runoff. The impact of faecal bacteria contamination has been evaluated in terms of economical losses and social conflicts, arising from the restriction of shellfish farming and marketing during contamination events. Finally, the DSS prototype has been applied to the lagoon in support to management and future planning.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i18252273v1n1p107

Keywords: Mediterranean lagoon; watershed; bacteriological contamination; scenario analysis; Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM); Decision Support System (DSS)

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