Sources of faecal contamination in the Seine estuary (France)

Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2005
AuthorsGarcia-Armisen, T, Touron, A, Petit, F, Servais, P
JournalEstuaries and Coasts
Start Page627
Date Published08/2005
The waters of the Seine river estuary, located in a highly anthropogenicized area in the northern part of France, are of poor microbiological quality; the concentrations of faecal bacteria usually exceed the European Union bathing and recreational water directives. The aim of the present study was to identify the main sources of the faecal pollution of the Seine estuary in order to help define priorities for management and sanitation efforts. Budgets of faecal coliform (FC) inputs to the estuary were established for various hydrological conditions. Main sources of FC were the outfalls of the treated effluents of the wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) located along the estuary, the faecal bacteria brought in through the tributaries of the Seine estuary, and the faecal bacteria transported by the Seine river flow at the estuary entrance at Poses dam. In order to quantify these inputs, FC were enumerated during sampling campaigns conducted for various hydrological conditions in the Seine at the entrance of the estuary, in the tributaries close to their confluence with the estuary, and in the effluents of some WWTPs located along the estuary. The importance of the flux of FC transported by the Seine river flow at the estuary entrance at Poses dam decreased from 92% of the total FC input when the flow rate was high (717 m3 s-1) to 5% when flow rate was low (143 m3 s-1). The release of the domestic wastewaters of the large city of Paris located 120 km upstream from the entrance of the estuary was mainly responsible for this microbiological pollution. At low flow rates, the tributaries represent the most important source of FC (64–76% for flow rates of the Seine at Poses at approximately 150 m3 s-1), mainly from the Robec and Eure rivers. The treated wastewater of the WWTPs located along the estuary was the second source of FC for low flow conditions (19–30%); it was less important for high to intermediate flow rate conditions.