Urban water pollution poses risks of waterborne infectious diseases. Therefore, in order to improve urban liveability, effective pollution mitigation strategies are required underpinned by predictions generated using water quality models. However, the lack of reliability in current modelling practices detrimentally impacts planning and management decision making. This research study adopted a novel approach in the form of Bayesian Networks to model urban water quality to better investigate the factors that influence risks to human health. The application of Bayesian Networks was found to enhance the integration of quantitative and qualitative spatially distributed data for analysing the influence of environmental and anthropogenic factors using three surrogate indicators of human health risk, namely, turbidity, total nitrogen and fats/oils. Expert knowledge was found to be of critical importance in assessing the interdependent relationships between health risk indicators and influential factors. The spatial variability maps of health risk indicators developed enabled the initial identification of high risk areas in which flooding was found to be the most significant influential factor in relation to human health risk. Surprisingly, population density was found to be less significant in influencing health risk indicators. These high risk areas in turn can be subjected to more in-depth investigations instead of the entire region, saving time and resources. It was evident that decision making in relation to the design of pollution mitigation strategies needs to account for the impact of landscape characteristics on water quality, which can be related to risk to human health.
Environmental Pollution – Elsevier
Published: Feb 1, 2018
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