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Published by: Ramil L. Abuan on Sep 07, 2013
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Water Quality Management

In order to keep the health of any aquaculture system at an optimal level, certain water quality parameters must be monitored and controlled. Some of these parameters that most directly affect the health of the system are pH and alkalinity, hardness, temperature, dissolved oxygen, and nutrients (such as nitrogen and phosphorus). This page has been included to provide you with some background information for managing your system's water quality.


A pH meter

pH is the scientific way to express the number of H+ ions in water. As you most likely know, the pH of pure water is 7. However, many sources of water have a low pH, meaning they are acidic. These often range from 4.5-6.5, due to weak acids from the soil leaching into the water. If the water becomes too acidic, it will not be able to support the growth of plants, fish, or invertebrates. For this reason, water's pH should be monitored for declining pH. This monitoring may be done in several ways, through titration, pH paper, or pH probes. A low pH usually requires ongoing treatment, most commonly by adding agricultural lime (calcium carbonate, calcite, CaCO3), quick lime (calcium oxide, CaO), dolomite (CaMg (CO3)2), or builder's lime (Ca(OH)2).

pH paper test strips Water may become too alkaline (basic - a high pH) although this is much less common that low pH. Fish can't live at pH levels above 11. Ammonium Sulfate has

is the need aquatic organisms in any system have for oxygen. which is nearly pure. When using aeration devices to decrease the BOD (or to increase the DO). the harder the water is. your oxygen levels will be lowest at night. using test kits or probes. Fish and higher invertebrates are very efficient at removing oxygen from the water using their gills and they need to be. increasing to up to 211-500 ppm for very hard water. Hardness is generally used to express the total concentration of calcium and magnesium ions in fresh water. so if phytoplankton or plant populations are present in your culture.been suggested to treat high pH. Many biologists accept 6 ppm as the minimum concentration of DO needed to support fish life. For example. The softest water then is distilled water. measured in parts per million (ppm) of calcium carbonate (CaCO3). which is known as the biological oxygen demand (BOD). Return to Top Dissolved Oxygen (DO) A dissolved oxygen meter All organisms grown in aquaculture need oxygen dissolved in the water in order to survive. usually at least partially dissolved in the water. oxygen in produced by plants using sunlight. it also has many compounds in them. Soft water has 0-55 ppm. but this should be dome with caution since it tends to produce toxic by products. As you know. These 5 are: . The more dissolved material in the water. Some calcium is necessary in aquaculture systems as it is needed for strengthening the bones of fish and the shells of crustaceans. there are at least 5 criteria to be observed which will affect the ability of the water to hold oxygen. Dissolved oxygen in aquaculture is one of the most critical parameters. Closely related to DO. since water only holds a small percentage of the 20% of oxygen that makes up the atmosphere on earth. increasing the temperature and the salinity of water will decrease the water's ability to hold oxygen. Return to Top Hardness All natural water is made up of more than just water. There are many products currently available for quickly checking DO. The amount of oxygen the water can hold depends on the water's properties. Aeration devices are used in aquaculturee due to the high BOD levels in most systems as a result of high density stocking of the cultured organism and the high use of oxygen by bacteria breaking down wastes in the system.

especially if this occurred in their natural habitat. 3. The nitrogen cycle shows how bacteria in the system can adequately break down ammonia into the more usable and less . the form of nitrogen excreted by animals is most commonly ammonia (NH3). but always represents the temperature at which aquatic species can focus energy on growth and not on staying water to stay alive.1. However. Two of the most important of these nutrients are nitrogen and phosphorus. the sought after temperature is the optimal growth temperature. This is a toxic compound when its concentration in the water becomes elevated. For example. The oxygen gradient between the water and air. 5. it is easy to see the importance of temperature in your system. so there must be an adequate amount of oxygen present. but large changes in temperature. the less oxygen can be held in water. os if there is little oxygen in the water. the temperature is usually kept somewhere below the optimal growth temperature due to other potential hazards associated with high heat.the higher the temperature. Temperature can be continuously monitored with a temperature probe or a low tech thermometer. so with the smaller bubbles more oxygen would dissolve into the water. Salinity . Return to Top Nutrients These refer to molecules in the water that can be used as nutrients for plants and phytoplankton. Temperature . In actual aquaculture systems. In managing aquaculture systems. With this strong dependence on the temperature of the surrounding environment keeping the fish within the temperature range where they can survive. Fish are able to withstand some gradual changes in temperature.the higher the concentrations of dissolved salts. oxygen will enter faster than if the water is already saturated with oxygen. 4. one liter of air making 10 large bubbles has less bubble surface area than one liter making 10000 bubbles. especially when transporting fish should be avoided. Nitrogen is used by organisms in many chemical reaction. The amount of air coming in contact with water. any fish's body temperature is about 0.5o C (1o F) higher than the temperature of the water it is in. and is found as a building block of amino acids in proteins. This Temperature varies between species. Return to Top Temperature Generally speaking. It is most commonly found as nitrogen gas (N2) in the atmosphere. the less oxygen can be held 2. A large enough surface area of oxygen/water contact to allow exchange.

water refersonly to its liquid form or state. This can cause the release of toxins and raise the BOD of the system. Water Quality •2. nitrite (NO2. but these affects aren't a critical as high levels of ammonia. •4. This cycle is also alluded to in the discussion of biofiltration on the startup page. Importance of Water To function properly.Different bodies of water provide livelihood andeconomic security to different countries.as it functions as a solvent for a wide variety ofchemical substances and facilitates industrial coolingand transportation. man needs at least 8 glasses of water daily. and nitrate can be tested for using test kits. which explains the removal of nitrogen from the system. Water is a common chemical substance that is essential for thesurvival of all known forms of life.toxic form of nitrate (NO3).Approximately 70% of freshwater is consumed byagriculture. but the substance also has a solidstate (ice). chemical. An ammonia test kit Phosphates are less of a threat to aquaculture farmers since the largest problem associated with high phosphorus and limited nitrogen is cyanobacteria blooming. Water Quality Water quality is the physical. Return to Top •1. and a gaseous state (water vapor or steam). and aesthetic characteristics of water which determines its fitness for a variety of uses and for protecting the health and integrity of aquatic ecosystems. Solid (ice) Vapor Liquid •3. In typical usage. an intermediate in the nitrogen cycle).Water plays an important role in the world economy. Another general perception of water quality is that of a . Ammonia. biological.

•7. and ground water. water source plays an important role in other industries and domestic households. lakes. saturation zones. lake. clay) or the crevices or fractures in rocks. and Mindanao. lakes. Marine water encompasses coastal and oceanic water. SOURCES OF WATER &WATER QUALITY CLASSIFICATION •6. •5. and water-bearing rocks.97% saltwater (oceans and seas) . and ponds Ground Water – all water that saturates the tiny spaces between alluvial material (sands. and overuse (which may lower the level of the water).6% other land surface water such as rivers. as well as human uses such as sewage dispersion.2. Water Resource Surface Water is: . Department of Health (DOH). and coastal and oceanic waters. Department of Works and Sewerage System (DWSS). •8. Visayas. Water quality depends on the local geology and ecosystem. silt. industrialpollution. Aside from being a source of food and livelihood. 19 are considered major river basins. manufactured products. and some agencies have unclear and overlapping mandates.simple property that tells whether water is polluted or not. Water resources in the Philippines include inland fresh water. To answer the growing problems of water quality . Inland fresh water includes rivers. There are 421 principal river basins. capillary water. Water Quality in the Philippines Water quality protection and operation and maintenance of sanitation facilities are a collaborative undertaking of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) through the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB). and food stores. The problem is that there are too many policies and laws about water quality that some of them are not implementedand monitored properly. Fishing is one of the major industries of the country. use of water bodies as a heat sink. gravel.4% glaciers and polar ice caps . aquifers. A very small amount of the Earths water is contained withinwater towers. biological bodies. This includes the aeration zone.0. Philippine’s Water Resources The Philippines comprises more than 7.100 islands. Large bodies of water separated three major island groups: Luzon. the main source of fish and other aquatic plants and animals.

 Philippines’s main source of water is rainfall. respectively. which classifies bodies of water according to the degree of protection required. water quality problems arise. Water contamination contributes to low water quality resulting in water pollution. •12. Saltwater intrusion was mapped based on National Water Resources Board (NWRB) data. The surface and ground water quality shows the problem is getting severe in urban and coastal areas. Categories The parameters for water quality are determined by the intended use. •11. Hot spots areas of surface water quality were assessed by province using Dissolved Oxygen (DO) and Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) as parameters.. and bays) for beneficial use. Class AA and SA have the most stringent water quality for fresh surface waters and marine/coastal waters. i. Quality of Philippine Water Resources Over half of the Philippine rivers that were classified have lower quality and cannot be used for drinking unless treated. Work in the area of water quality tends to be focused on water that is treated for human consumption or in the environment. Clean water should be the priority. The coastal areas are densely populated thus causing water pollution. lakes. Groundwater quality was assessed by using Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) and Coliform. 34.e. Fifty-eight percent of ground water wells that were sampled were contaminated with coliform. and D and SD waters have the least stringent water quality for fresh surface water and marine waters. •9. This is embodied in the DENR Administrative Order (DAO) No. For Coastal and Marine Waters (as amended by DAO 97-23) •10. . Class A (for fresh surface waters) for drinking.  The Philippine government aims to maintain the quality of its surface waters according to their best beneficial use.severalinvestment projects were done to monitor and ensure safe water. Other hot spots were identified and rated on the basis of the objective of recovering the water quality of surface waters (rivers. This is the result of urbanization. As people flock into the metropolis and build homes. and Class SB ( for coastal and marine waters) for recreation.

Current environmental laws focus of the designation of uses and therefore allow for some water contamination as long as the particular type of contamination is not harmful to the designated uses. calcium. swimming. chloride. arsenic. .Toxic substances and high populations of certain microorganisms can present a health hazard for non-drinking purposes such as irrigation. Human Consumption or Drinking. or other biological) contamination. viral. Environmental Water Quality Also called ambient water quality. potassium. fishing. or pre-industrial conditions. and accessible) supply must be available to all. Modern water quality laws general specify protection of fishable/swimmable use and antidegradation of current conditions. Improving access to safe drinking-water can result in tangible benefits to health. protozoan. and intended human uses. etc. •14. Ambient water quality standards vary significantly due to different environmental conditions. and Giardia lamblia Dissolved metals and metalloids (lead.Water . Given the landscape changes in the watersheds of manyfreshwater bodies. safe. Water is essential to sustain life. boating. pertains to water bodies such as lakes. Cryptosporidium. Environmental Water Quality Environmental advocates express desires to return water bodies to pristine. The great majority of evident water-related problems are the result of microbial (bacteriological. •16. rivers. dissolved organic carbon (DOC) Radon Heavy metals •15. and oceans. magnesium) Microorganisms such as fecal coliform bacteria (Escherichia coli). mercury. Nevertheless. These conditions may also affect wildlife which use the water for drinking or as a habitat. rafting. For Human Consumption or Drinking-Water World Health Organization has set the Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality of which the primary purpose is the protection of public health.) Dissolved organics: colored dissolved organic matter (CDOM). ecosystems. and industrial uses.•13. an appreciable number of serious health problems may occur as a result of the chemical contamination of drinking water. and a satisfactory (adequate. manganese.Parameters Alkalinity Color of water pH Taste and odor Dissolved metals and salts (sodium.

or from natural sources. •17. Chemical Properties . •21.Nitrate . as it is readily available andinexpensive. fecal coliforms. and viruses. Components of Water Quality Biological Aspect Parasitic protozoa and helminths are also indicators of water quality. Components of Water Quality Chemical Aspect Chemical contamination of water sources may be due to certain industries and agricultural practices. Coliforms are not appropriate direct indicators because of the greater resistance of these protozoans to inactivation by disinfection. biological. and physical aspects) & MEASUREMENTS •19. oil content. It should also not contain bacteria that would indicate excremental pollution. there is the potential that they may cause either acute or chronic health effects.pH . Chronic health effects are .Dissolved oxygen (DO) .Biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) . odor.Chemical oxygen demand (COD) . •18. it is not fully effective. •20. In these cases. against all organisms. COMPONENTS OF WATER QUALITY (microbial. turbidity. Components of Water Quality Microbial Aspect Drinking water should not include microorganisms that are known to be pathogenic.Pesticides Biological Properties Bacteriological parameters: coliforms. Chlorine is the usual disinfectant. Most common among the pathogenic protozoans are Entamoeba and Giardia. solids (residues). Species of protozoa can be introduced into water supply through human or animal fecal contamination.returning to pristine conditions would be asignificant challenge.A single mature larva or fertilized egg of parasitic roundwormsand flatworms can cause infection when transmitted to humans through drinking water. chemical.Conductivity . Environmental Water Quality – Parameters Physical Properties Color. When toxic chemicals are present in drinking water.Orthophosphate . and grease content. Unfortunately. temperature. as currently used. the primary indicator of which are coliform bacteria that are present in the feces of warm-blooded organisms. specific pathogens. environmental scientists focus on achieving goals for maintaining populations of endangered species and protecting human health.

•25. Water tastes sour.more common than acute effectsbecause the level of chemicals in drinking water are seldom high enough to cause acute health effects.Organic substances also cause water odor. Taste problems relating to water could be indicators of changes in water sources or treatment process. while readings above 7 indicate the water is alkaline or basic. and analyzed at anotherlocation (e.0. The pH of the water is important because it affects the solubility and availability of nutrients.0 – 6.More complex measurements that must be made ina laboratory setting require a water sample to becollected. On the pH scale of 0 . . Cu. •22.14. Components of Water Quality Physical Aspect The turbidity. though odors may result from many factors.At pH 4. dissolved oxygen. including biological activity and industrial pollution. preserved. Measurement #1 pHThe pH of a water does not have direct health consequencesexcept at extremes: . a reading of 7 is considered to be "neutral. This measurement indicates the acidity or alkalinity of the water. Water Quality MeasurementThe complexity of water quality as a subject is reflectedin the many types of measurements of water qualityindicators. or the "potential of hydrogen".5 and 8. Ca. High turbidity can inhibit the effects of disinfection against microorganisms and enable bacterial growth. pH. toxic effects associated with .g. Some measurements that can be made on-site are temperature.0. andconductivity.5. Na. and how they can be utilized by aquatic organisms. Turbidity should always be low. severe danger of health effects due to dissolved toxic metal ions are expected. taste.Drinking water should be colorless. is a measure of the concentration of hydrogen ions in the water. •24. •23. Measurement #1 pH pH. microbiological tests).pH <4. color. and Zn are generally detected by the taste of water." Readings below 7 indicate acidic conditions. Naturally occurring fresh waters have a pH range between 6.. The main significance of pH in domestic water supplies relates to its effects on water treatment. Inorganic compounds such as Mg. and odor of water can be monitored. Fe. since coloration may be due to the presence of colored organic matter. especially where disinfection is practiced.

 Philippines standard for BOD in water is not more than 5 mg/L •28. .0 – severe danger of health effects due to deprotonated species. no significant effects on health are expected. Surface Water Class A and Coastal and Marine Water Class SB DO mg/L BOD mg/LSatisfactory (S) >5 Satisfactory (S) <5Marginal (M) 5 Marginal (M) 5Unsatisfactory (U) <5 Unsatisfactory (U) >5Minimum 5 Minimum 5Requirement Requirement •29. measured in milligrams per liter (mg/L). the cooler the water temperature.dissolvedmetals. Salmonids. including lead.Treatment option would be the addition of an acid or an alkali. For example. since it directly influences the amount of dissolved oxygen that is available to aquatic organisms. .0 – 11.At pH 9. the higher the amount of organic material found in the stream. •26. and is expressed in mg/L. Water tastes bitter. prefer waters of approximately 12 to 14 . Water tastes soapy. the more dissolved oxygen it can hold. the probability of toxic effects associated with deprotonated species increases sharply. This component in water is critical to the survival of various aquatic life in streams. The ability of water to hold oxygen in solution is inversely proportional to the temperature of the water. . or breakdown of organic matter in the streams. Usually.0. Measurement #4Temperature Temperature is a measure of how cool or how warm the water is. Measurement # 2Dissolved Oxygen (DO) Dissolved oxygen is the amount of oxygen dissolved in water. Water temperature that exceeds 18°C (for Class A Waters) has a deleterious effect on several fish species in streams. are likely to occur. Water tastes slightly sour. the more oxygen is used for aerobic oxidation. Measurement #3 Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) Biological Oxygen Demand is a measure of how much oxygen is used by microorganisms in the aerobic oxidation. expressed in degrees Celsius (C).0 to 9. Temperature is a critical water quality parameter.0. This measurement is obtained over a period of five days.At pH>11.At target water quality range of 6. This depletes the amount of dissolved oxygen available to other aquatic life. for example. Common standard for water is that DO is at 8. such as fish.0 mg/L The Philippines standard is 5 mg/L •27.

 The TDS concentration is directly proportional to the electrical conductivity of water. it is routinely used as an estimate of the TDS concentration. and Mg. Na. nitrate. Environmental Water Quality –Biological Assessment Biological monitoring metrics have been developed in many places. It can be in the form of minerals or organic matter. This is an indicator of nonpoint source pollution problems associated with various land use practices. and one widely used measure is the presence and abundance of members of . Ca. and is an indirect measure of the ion concentration. The measurement is expressed as the number of organisms per 100 mL sample of water (#/100mL). •31. thus an increase in the amount of suspended solid particles in the water may be visually described as cloudiness or muddiness. This measurement is expressed in microsiemens per centimeter (uS/cm) at 25°C. Measurement #6Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) Total dissolved solids is a measure of the amount of particulate solids that are in solution. •32.degrees Celsius. the more electricity can be conducted by the water. TDS is expressed in (mg/L) with target water quality range of 0 – 450 mg/L. such as that of carbonate. Measurement #8Fecal Coliform Bacteria Fecal coliform bacteria are microscopic organisms that live in the intestines of all warm blooded animals. Standard Fecal Coliform Bacteria is 100 organisms per 100 mL •34. Measurement #5Conductivity Conductivity is the ability of the water to conduct an electrical current. chloride. suphate. Fecal coliform bacteria may indicate the presence of disease-carrying organisms which live in the same environment as the fecal coliform bacteria. Standard is 5 NTU’s •33. Since conductivity is much easier to measure than TDS. The target water quality range is 0 – 70. Turbidity is measured in Nephelometric Turbidity Units (NTU). bicarbonate. Measurement #7 Turbidity Turbidity is a measure of the clarity of the water. It is the amount of solids suspended in the water. and in animal wastes or feces eliminated from the intestinal tract. •30. K. The more ions present. It is a measure of the light scattering properties of water.

Ion exchange – the interchange of ions of like charge. streambank erosion and alterations. runoff from livestock operations. Without the laboratory scale analysis. usually on a solid medium and is used in water treatment. animal waste. accidental spills. runoff from impervious areas. leaky sewers and septic tanks. SOURCES OF CONTAMINATION •36. Flocculation – the addition of chemical reagents (flocculants) to bring small particles together in flocs through the process of coagulation. leaking sewers and septic tanks. wet detention ponds •38. animal wastes. disturbed land areas. atmospheric deposition. •35. Plecoptera (Stonefly) and Trichoptera (Caddisfly) Generally. such as water softening. effluent from aquaculture facilities. This may result from the addition of an electrolyte (coagulant). tree removal along streams. the better the water quality. MEANS OF TREATMENT •39. cultivated farmland *** Fertilizer on agricultural. Sources of Contamination Construction and mining sites. or biochemical reaction of fine suspended particles. industrial areas. urban stormwater runoff. improperly disinfected wastewater effluent *** Salt applications to snow and ice *** Leaky automobiles. . Sources of ContaminationFailing septic tanks. prolonged heating. illegal dumping ***Hydrological modifications that influence the amount of fresh or saline waters entering a system *** Heated landscape areas. disinfectants (chlorine). the greater the number of taxa from these orders. organic matter. or from a condensation reaction between a solvent and solute. residential. within a region. aggregation. illegal dumping. animal waste •37. an individual can use this biological indicator to get a general reading of water quality (such as the benthic macro-invertebrate indicator key). municipal wastewater ***Pesticide applications. wildlife.the insect orders Ephemerontera (Mayfly). automobilefluids. industrial effluent ***Wastewater effluent. Means of Treatment Coagulation – the separation or precipitation of particles in a dispersed state from a suspension resulting from their growth. commercial and recreational lawns.

•40. . A bed of sand or pulverized coal. and regulating and enforcing programs to accomplish the planning goals.Aeration – a process of exposing water to air by dividing thewater into small drops. by forcing air through the water. and law and regulations dealing with the water pollution control. . Itcontinues to be a serious problem for human health and it is causing widespread negative environmental effects.Adsorption – ex. •42. using activated alumina. and . and disposal of municipalities and industries. treatment. Boiling – to kill some bacteria. and taste-producing gases or vapors . WATER QUALITY MANAGEMENT •43.Distillation – the process of producing gas or vapor from a liquid by heating the liquid in a vessel and then collecting and condensing the vapors into liquids.for various beneficial use. Means of Treatment Ozonation – disinfection using ozone. use of potassium permanganate. Reverse Osmosis – a technique in the desalination of water in which pressure is applied to the surface of the saline solution. This concern is based on the fact that water qualitydegradation is so severe in many Asian countries that it is placing serious constraints on economic growth. or through a matrix of fibrous material supported on a perforated core.permeable membrane which prevents passage of other ions. Means of Treatment Disinfections – to kill living organisms (ex. Electodialysis – the process of selective diffusion through a membrane conducted with the aid of an electromotive force applied to electrodes on both sides of the membrane. Filtrations/ultra-filtrations – ex. Water Quality ManagementWater quality management is the planning for theprotection of a water’s quality . It is used to add oxygen to water and toremove CO2. in its recent examination of global water scarcity (1997) identified water quality as one of the key concerns in Asia in the next century. ozonation.for activities that might create water quality problems. or bycombination of both. •41. or silver ions. activated carbon or activated carbon (GAC).for the provision of adequate wastewater collection. •44. UV light. chlorination. Water Quality Management The United Nations. hydrogen sulfide. forcing pure water to pass through a semi.


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