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MAY, 2012


ABSTRACTS Water, our most abundant natural resource has a lot of demands placed on it from various domestic, agricultural and industrial processes. Its suitability for use in those processes would require that certain biological, chemical and physical criteria be met so that it does not defeat the purpose for which it is needed. For aquatic systems, the impurities in water should be present in concentrations (and sizes for insoluble impurities) which would neither endanger aquatic lives nor alter their populations, because these organisms respond to changes of any kind in their environments. In order to understand the chemical and physical impacts of sediments on water resources, and the suspended sediment levels that water quality managers should intend to realize in order to support good ecological status in different environments, this project will seek to study and model the characteristics of sediments, in contrasting freshwater ecosystems that are in reference conditions and those that are impacted by varying degree of sediment-related problems.

INTRODUCTION Our world is facing a lot of challenges, the chief of which is the jeopardizing of nature and humans through environmental pollution and of course, it is the by-product of our own activities. We long for civilization because we believe it would improve our standards of living and would also bring about higher productivity with less effort in the industrial and agricultural sectors. Even though, humans do not all get equal share of this improved standard of living, we all inherit the by-product which is environmental pollution. Unfortunately, it is not only the human community that suffers pollution, plant and lower animal communities also suffer. When we engage in various activities such as road construction, logging, mining, grazing and agriculture, we up-set the ecological balance of the environment, the natural habitat of many plant and animal species is modified and this leads to unwanted effects on the flora and fauna of the region. Water is one of our most important natural resources, and there are many conflicting demands upon it, but when we introduce substances that modify its make-up significantly, we do not only cause hazards to our health but also harm other living components and ecological systems or interference with uses of the environment (Mason, 1981; Heath, 1987; Lloyd, 1992). When considering the effects of chemical pollution on freshwaters, it is necessary to consider how pollutants can get into these waters. Such inputs can be obtained from a lot of sources, some obvious and others less so. They can be inconsistent so that the concentrations of chemicals in the water are rarely constant. As industrial, agricultural and domestic practices change, evolve and develop, so will the types of chemical inputs, and therefore their importance be altered. Domestic, industrial and agricultural users produce large quantities of waste products, and waterways provide an effective and cheap way of disposing of many of these. All freshwaters, from the longest rivers and the broadest lakes, to seasonal streams and rain pools, are intimately linked to the 4

environment around them (Jeffries and Mills, 1990). As a result of seasonal fluctuations in the flow rate of some rivers, the effluents of some towns and industries become the water supplies of other users downstream (Mason, 1981). The introduction of pollutants into an aquatic system can set off a complicated series of biological and chemical reactions (Laws, 1993). In order to understand how and why these reactions occur and to successfully manage any ecosystem, a thorough knowledge of the type and the effects of the pollutants on the plant and animal communities in the system is needed as well as a sound knowledge of the structure and basic functioning of that system. It is only possible to determine changes stemming from the introduction of pollutants if one has information on the characteristics of the freshwater system and natural changes occurring in the system (Dallas and Day, 1993). Research Objective This research project will focus on studying and modeling the characteristics of sediments, in contrasting freshwater ecosystems that are in reference condition, and those that are impacted by varying degrees of sediment-related problems.

LITERATURE REVIEW WATER QUALITY Every life on earth depends on water for survival and its quality has been defined as its suitability to sustain various uses and processes (Meybeck et al., 1996). Any particular use will have certain requirements for the physical, chemical or biological characteristics of water; for instance, limits on the concentrations of toxic substances for drinking water use, or restrictions on temperature and pH ranges for water supporting invertebrate communities. Consequently, water quality can be defined by a range of variables which limit water use. Although many uses have some common requirements for certain variables, each use will have its own demands and influences on water quality. Quantity and quality demands of different users will not always be compatible, and the activities of one user may restrict the activities of another, either by demanding water of a quality outside the range required by the other user or by lowering quality during use of the water. Efforts to improve or maintain a certain water quality often compromise between the quality and quantity demands of different users. There is increasing recognition that natural ecosystems have a legitimate place in the consideration of options for water quality management (Meybeck et al., 1996). This is both for their intrinsic value and because they are sensitive indicators of changes or deterioration in overall water quality, providing a useful addition to physical, chemical and other information. Water quality is affected by a wide range of natural and human influences. The most important of the natural influences are geological, hydrological and climatic, since these affect the quantity and the quality of water available. Their influence is generally greatest when available water quantities are low and maximum use must be made of the limited resource. Natural events such as intense rainfall and hurricanes lead to excessive erosion and landslides, which in turn increase the content of suspended material in affected rivers and lakes. Seasonal overturn of the water in some lakes can bring water with little or no dissolved oxygen to the surface. Such natural events may be frequent or occasional.

Permanent natural conditions in some areas may make water unfit for drinking or for specific uses, such as irrigation. Many ground-waters are naturally high in carbonates, thus necessitating their treatment before use for certain industrial applications (Ababio, 2010). Ground-waters in some regions contain some and heavy metals which if present in large quantities can be harmful to health (Lawson, 2011). The effects of human activities on water quality are both widespread and varied in the degree to which they disrupt the ecosystem or even restrict water use. The types and quantities of waste from domestic, industrial and agricultural processes discharged into the water bodies are just more than what the aquatic lives can bear. Other activities such as logging, mining and road construction introduce sediments in varying amounts into rivers and lakes and these have various detrimental effects on the ecological systems. Although the natural ecosystem is in harmony with natural water quality, any significant changes to water quality will usually be disruptive to the ecosystem. EFFECTS OF SUSPENDED SOLIDS ON AQUATIC SYSTEMS The concentration of suspended solids in natural waters is usually influenced by such factors as geology, topography, soil condition, intensity and duration of rainfall, type and amount of vegetation in the basin and mans activity in the drainage basin. Most flowing waters have considerable variation in suspended solids concentration from day-to-day; therefore, loading of suspended solids in lakes from streams will vary from day-to-day. Since natural variation in suspended solids is so great, it is not desirable to have fixed rigid standards. For this reason, it has been suggested that the effects upon the aquatic lives in the system be used to determine the standards of suspended solids (Cairns, 1967). Effects on Aquatic Plants Plants adapted to the aquatic environment include floating and benthic macroscopic plants, phytoplankton, and periphyton. The role of phytoplankton in the environment involves oxygenation of water, source of food for zooplankton and, after death, a nutrient source. Major effects of suspended

solids on photosynthetic systems include reduction in light penetration, sedimentation and habitat alteration. These effects vary, as some species being affected more than others. Reduced Light Penetration There are evidences suggesting that photosynthetic productivity of aquatic plants largely depends on the amount of light available and not on the nutrient concentrations (Lund, 1969), consequently, this would affect other organisms depending on these plants. Light reduction does not only inhibit photosynthesis, it may also vary oxygen relationships in surface water (Oschwald, 1972; Angino and OBrien, 1968). Perhaps this is because suspended solids which are able to reduce light penetration can as well absorb heat from the sun to increase the surface temperature of water thereby decreasing the solubility of oxygen gas in surface water. Light penetration has also been found to alter the community composition. Wetzel and McGregor (1968) reported that low light intensity inhibits germination of Najas flexilis and Chara and would, therefore, eliminate these two species from the community. Sedimentation and Habitat Alteration Two effects which can vary the photosynthetic population due to sedimentation are habitat destruction and abrasive action. Many species are confined to a particular or very few habitats because they need a special surface for attachment. Destruction of specific habitats will not only eliminate one part of the populations but may also introduce a new population into the area (Hynes, 1970). Effects on Aquatic Animals Reduced Feeding Activities in Invertebrates High concentration of sedimentation has been reported to decrease the feeding activities of aquatic species. McCABE and OBrien (1983) and Kirk (1991) reported the reduced feeding rate of Daphnia in suspended clay. While working on the feeding activities of members of the genus Daphnia, Arruda et al. (1983) discovered a trend which goes from decreased ingestion rates to potential starvation levels. Ellis

(1936) had earlier explained that under highly turbid conditions, mussels and clams usually close their shells. Either the mussel cannot feed or it rejects silt-laden food as pseudo-faeces and then it starves. Changes in Abundance and Composition of Invertebrates There is substantial evidence which indicate that changes in the abundance and composition of invertebrate communities are associated with increases in suspended solids and turbidity. Gammon (1970) found that in a stream below a limestone quarry where the average suspended solid loads was increased to approximately 40 mg/l; there was a serious effect on the macro-invertebrate population. Suspended solids concentrations ranges from 13 to 52 mg/l above the quarry and 21 to 250 mg/l below the quarry. Species of the Tricorythoides increased somewhat below the quarry as opposed to the area above the quarry due to their preference for silt or mud substrate while Cheumatopsyche were reduced during periods of heavy sediments input. Other effects of suspended solids on invertebrates include movement alterations (Rosenberg and Wiens, 1975; Leudtke and Brusven, 1976), reduced growth rates (delayed in some organisms) most likely due to poor food quality or reduced feeding rates (Appleby and Scarratt, 1989; Kirk, 1992; Paffenhofer, 1972) and high mortality rates (Paffenhofer, 1972; Koenings et al., 1990). Impacts on Fish Generally, tolerance varies considerably between different fish species, the various particle sizes and types, and water quality parameters (including temperature). For example, larger particles having greater angularity have generally been found to be more lethal than smaller and smoother particles (Appleby and Scarratt, 1989). The effect of suspended sediments on fish is also influenced by water temperatures with more severe impacts occurring at higher water temperatures. This phenomenon is probably a function of reduced activity (and metabolic rate) at cooler temperatures as well as the fact that saturation concentration of dissolved oxygen is an inverse function of water temperature.

Reduced Feeding Activity in Fish Reduced light penetration affects sight feeding fish by reducing efficiency of prey location (Berg and Northcote, 1985; Vinyard and O'Brien, 1976; Zettler and Carter, 1986). Turbidity can inhibit the feeding of predatory fish even under abundant food conditions (Gregory, 1991; Vinyard and O'Brien, 1976). Miller and Menzel (1986) reported a negative relationship between water transparency and muskellunge feeding activity. Turbidity from suspended clay particles significantly reduced the feeding rate of bluegills on Daphnia (Gardner 1981). The feeding rate of Arctic grayling has been impaired at increased sediment concentrations (McLeay et al., 1987). Larval striped bass consumed 40% fewer prey in water having suspended solids concentrations of 200-500 mg/l (Breitburg, 1988). A reduction in feeding activity of Oncorhynchus tshawytscha was noted at suspended sediment concentrations of 300 mg/l (Gregory and Northcote, 1993). Redding et al. (1987) reported that feeding rates of yearling coho salmon, Oncorhynchus kisutch and steelhead, Salmo gairdneri was reduced at high (2-3 gm/l) of suspended solids. Physiological Changes in Fish Several species of fish have been found to be relatively tolerant of high suspended sediment concentrations (Petticord, 1976). Fish can tolerate short episodes of extremely high levels of suspended sediment by exuding protective mucus on the skin and gills. This mucus traps and continually removes trapped particles but at the expense of metabolic energy which places the fish under stress (Committee Restoration Aquatic Ecosystems, 1992). For a direct effect or mortality to occur, the levels of suspended solids must be very high and dissolved oxygen relatively low. Excessive levels of silt clog opercular cavities and irritate gills leading to respiratory difficulties and poor health. At very high turbidities, sediment-clogged gills cease to function as oxygen exchange sites and the fish dies from a combination of deficiency of oxygen and carbon dioxide retention (Phillips, 1971).


Sedimentation of Spawning Beds One of the most well known impacts is the sedimentation of fish spawning grounds. Usually, silt which settles on spawning substrate prevents successful incubation and hatching of fish eggs requiring a clean surface. Sediment clogs the interstitial spaces in gravel reducing water flow and, hence, oxygen availability to eggs which ultimately causes them to suffocate (Doudoroff, 1957; McQuinn et al., 1983; Peters, 1965; Ventling- Schwank and Livingstone, 1994).


EXPERIMENTAL SECTION SAMPLING: Naturally, particles which occur in water are in a range of sizes therefore the project will focus on studying the characteristics of sediments by comparing ecosystems which are at extremes of particles and those in-between. Samples will be taken from water bodies of different ecological status with respect to the sediment levels and the speed of water current periodically for over a period of two years in order to take the effects of natural constraint into the account of the samples analysis. Water analysis which shall include but not limited to total suspended solid and turbidity measurements will be done on each sample during every period of sample collection. At the time of this work, I look forward to profit from an array of environmental monitoring equipment and water analytical facilities and excellent team of scientists at the University of Brightons Aquatic Research Centre.


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