Modeling Escherichia coli fate and transport in the Kabul River Basin using SWAT

Muhammad Shahid Iqbal*, Nynke Hofstra

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Access to safe water is the primary goal of all development plans, yet population increase, urbanization lead to contamination of water resources. This paper focuses on microbial contamination and aims to analyze the fate and transport of Escherichia coli in the Kabul River Basin using SWAT model to evaluate the contribution of different sources. The SWAT is calibrated and validated for the monthly time step using observed E. coli concentrations for April 2013–July 2015. The model skill score; coefficients of determination (R2) equal 0.72 and 0.70, Nash–Sutcliffe efficiencies (NSE) equal 0.69 and 0.66, and percentages bias (PBIAS) equal 3.7 and 1.9 respond well for both calibration and validation, respectively. Regional measured and modeled concentrations are very high with peaks of up to 5.2 10log cfu/100 ml in the wet season. Overall, point sources that are comprised of human feces from the big cities and livestock manure from animal sheds, contribute most (44%) to the E. coli concentrations. During peak discharge the non-point sources become the most important contributors due to wash-off from the land and diluted point sources. Allthough such studies are lacking in developing countries, they can be helpful for sanitation management by developing and accessing regional sanitation scenarios.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1279-1297
JournalHuman and Ecological Risk Assessment
Issue number5
Early online date7 Dec 2018
Publication statusPublished - May 2019


  • E. coli contamination
  • fate and transport
  • Kabul River Basin
  • SWAT model
  • water quality modeling

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