Date of Award

Spring 2006

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Civil & Environmental Engineering

Committee Director

Mujde Erten-Unal

Committee Member

Gary Schafran

Committee Member

Jaewan Yoon


The primary objectives of this thesis are (1) determine if the proper indicator organism is being utilized to determine the bacterial water quality in the State of Virginia. (2) If other environmental factors can predict the bacterial water quality. The current indicator organism of choice for bacterial water quality of waters in the State of Virginia is enterococci, for estuarine and brackish waters. E. coli is the indicator organism of choice for fresh waters in Virginia.

The study concluded (1) Enterococci are the best indicator organism for beaches located in the Hampton Roads Harbor and the Lower James River. (2) E. coli may be a better indicator organism during higher precipitation recreational seasons for Yorktown Beach. (3) Enterococci may be a better indicator organism for dryer recreational water seasons. (4) E. coli counts were most likely affected by wind direction and precipitation. (5) Enterococci are present in significant amounts when sunbathers are present and for the sizes of waves at Yorktown Beach.