You are on page 1of 42

ECOSYSTEM MODELLING FOR

MUTHUPET LAGOON
ALONG VEDARANYAM COAST (TAMILNADU)

Muthupet Lagoon

Palk Strait

Government of India
Department of Ocean Development
Integrated Coastal and Marine Area Management (ICMAM)
Project Directorate, Chennai

August 2005

DEVELOPMENT TEAM

ICMAM-Project Directorate, Chennai


: Dr.B.R.Subramanian

Project co-ordination and Review


Project
concept,
Technical
expertise and scheme designing

co-ordination, : Dr. G.V.M.Gupta


Mr. M.V.Ramana Murty

Hydrodynamic field data collection and Modeling

: Mr. M.V.Ramana Murty


Dr. G.V.M.Gupta
Dr. M. Bhat
Mr.J.Edwin Rajan
Mr.D.Elangovan

Water quality sampling, analysis and data : Dr. G.V.M.Gupta


processing
Dr. V.G.Sravan Kumar
Mr. Ajay Kumar Ray
Nutrient Budget Modeling and Report preparation

: Dr. G.V.M.Gupta

Centre for Environmental Studies, Anna University, Chennai

Logistic support, association with ICMAM-PD in


field data collection, laboratory analysis and
Remote Sensing analysis

: Dr.Usha Natesan
Mr.Viswanathan
Mr.Soundar Rajan
Mr.Thulasiraman

Centre for Advanced Studies in Marine Biology, Annamalai University,


Parangipettai
Logistic support and association with ICMAM-PD
in field data collection

: Prof.T.Balasubramanian
& Team

1.0 INTRODUCTION

Coastal wetlands play a significant role as a transition water body between


land and the sea. Like estuaries, they exhibit unique hydrological conditions ranging
from freshwater to seawater. Most of them act as a silt trap and facilitate growth of
salt marshes and mangroves. Their nutrient richness often enhances productivity and
support good fishery. However, due to human interventions like discharge of
untreated sewage and industrial effluents either directly or indirectly through water
bodies draining into them. Such activities change the characteristics of the
ecosystem. Understanding the present characteristics of the ecosystem and the
impact of human interventions help in preventing adverse impacts that may arise due
to future activities. This can be best achieved through the method of ecosystem
modelling. Muthupet lagoon (Vedaranyam) located along the coromandel coast is
one of the least disturbed ecosystem and it would be the ideal location for ecosystem
modelling.

2.0 AREA DESCRIPTION:

Vedaranyam region falls in the pro-deltaic region of Cauvery delta of


Thanjavur district, Tamilnadu. It is a typical arcuate delta and the alignment of the arc
passes through Tirutturaipoondi. Within the delta, the distributary system of Cauvery
river stands exposed as palaeo channels, due to the northerly migration of Cauvery
river and over such palaeo channels only, the present day Vennar, Vettar, Arasalar
and many other ephemeral streams are flowing (Ramasamy et al., 1995). Bundles of
beach ridges with intervening swales have developed in between Tirutturaipoondi in
the northwest and Kodiakkarai in the southeast to breadth of approximately 55-58
km. There are dried up backwaters in between such beach ridges. Also backwaters
with heavy siltation up to 80-85% of its areal extent also exist. In the outermost part

of such beach ridges swale complex, 90-100 km long Vedaranyam backwater is


found (Fig.1). The occurrences of beach ridges swales indicates that the sea might
have been in Tirutturaipoondi area in the recent years and in the same might have
gradually receded up to Kodiakkarai, the present day sea shore, thereby leaving the
beach ridges and swales. Ramasamy and Ravishankar (2002) identified offshore
sand bars/shoals which are enveloping the present day Kodiakkarai shoreline have
been built up to a distance of approximately 22 km inside the sea between
Kodiakkarai in the northwest and Jaffna Peninsula in the southeast, while the
distance between both is 30 km. Further their analysis on carbon dating of beach
ridges showed that the palaeo sea might have been at Chettipulam around 6085
years BP, receded and reached Thetthakudi around 5646 years BP, reached
Maranganallur around 3570 years BP and finally reached the present shoreline at
Kodiakkarai around 1020 years BP. The average rate of annual land building activity
was estimated to be around 15 m per year.

The delta has evolved from the sediment piling on a basin that was formed
after northeast-southwest trending fault and transverse trough faults. The delta
formation commenced only after the Cretaceous. Palaeocene and Neocene
sediments dominate the filled up basin. Sedimentation during Mio-Pliocene was
continental. The eastern part of the basin, the Point Calimere region, suffered
subsidence during late tertiary while the western and southwestern parts, especially
Pattukkottai-Mannargudi line were gently uplifted. This also accounts for the depth to
basement, which has reached 1600m in the Pattukkottai-Mannargudi line, while at
the eastern part, the basement occurs only at a depth of 3500m accounting for huge
thickness of marine sediments. This is probably one of the main reasons for the
increasing shallowness of the lagoon in the Muthupet mangroves. The entire coastal
tract between Muthupet and Vedaranyam represents an east-west disposed arm of a

cuspate foreland bar, formed due to the action of the longshore currents. Formation
of sub-aerial deltas is a very recent phenomenon, not more than 100 years old.

India

Palk Strait

Sri
Lanka

Palk Strait

FIG 1. Map showing Vedaranyam and nearby areas.

Muthupet Lagoon

Palk Strait

IRS PAN data of


Muthupet and
adjoining areas.

It is a marine coastal wetland with a wide diversity of habitats and ecological


features, including intertidal salt marshes, forested wetlands, mangroves and
brackish to saline lagoons. According to international classification, this area is called
medium tropical transitional bio-climate, which is characterized by monthly average
temperature above 27C. The total annual rainfall varies from 1000 to 1500 mm. The
average humidity of the area is 75%. Elevation ranges between 0 and 6 m above
MSL. The soil types commonly found in this area are alluvial, Red ferruginuous or
Lateritic, Irugur or Black, Arenaceous and Kallar. Agriculture is the main occupation
in this area. Irrigation is mainly through river canals. Besides paddy, sugarcane and
banana are raised in the irrigated lands.

The coastal waters of Vedaranyam are relatively unpolluted. Regarding the


industrial activities, salt industries are the major ones and a Tobacco processing
factory is functioning with few labourers. There are two major industries in this area
both extracting bromine. They generate about 3.2 mld of trade effluents, which are
directly discharged into the sea. Recently, few small-scale aquaculture farms have
also come up in this area. Though these discharge quantities are negligible, they
may have influence on the aquatic flora and fauna.

2.1 Muthupet Lagoon:

Muthupet mangrove wetland of Vedaranyam area is located in the southern


most end of the Cauvery delta in the districts of Nagapattinam, Thrivarur and
Thanjavur. The total area of the lagoon as estimated from the satellite data IRS PAN
image, which is having a resolution of 5.6 m in space for the period June 2003 is
13.32 km2 and it has a volume of 9.6 x 106 m3 (as estimated for Nov-Dec 2003). It is
a part of a large coastal wetland complex called the Great Vedaranyam Swamp. This
area has a gentle slope towards Palk Strait of Bay of Bengal. The distributaries of
6

Cauvery

viz.,

Paminiyar,

Koraiyar,

Kandaparichanar,

Kilaithangiyar

and

Marakkakoraiyar discharge their water into the wetlands and form a large lagoon
before reaching the sea. Besides the lagoon, the wetland includes many tidal creeks,
channels and small bays, bordered by thick mangroves; and a number of manmade
canals dug across the mangrove wetlands, particularly in their western part and
fished intensively. The lagoon receives inflow of freshwater during northeast
monsoon (October-December) through the above drainage arteries occupied by
agricultural soils, mangrove swamps and aquaculture ponds. From February to
September, freshwater discharge into the mangrove wetland is negligible. The soil in
the lagoon is clayey silt and towards the landward side it is silty clay due to fresh silt
deposits.

Available records indicate that the management of the Muthupet mangrove


wetland started as early as 1740. Though the earlier records indicated the clear
felling of mangrove forests, after taking over of these forests by Tamilnadu Forest
Department, the mangrove felling was stopped. According to 1996 remote sensing
data, the wetland occupies an area of approximately 12000 ha, consists of 1855 ha
healthy mangroves, 7181 ha degraded mangroves, 1700 ha water bodies, 375 ha
other vegetation like Prosopis and 910 ha saltpan. Healthy mangroves occupy only
15% of the total area whereas degraded mangroves constitute about 68% (Selvam et
al., 2002). Further, the mangrove cover reduced from 2762 ha to 1767 ha between
1970 and 1986, which increased by about 100 ha in 1996. The degradation of the
mangrove wetland is due to the hyper saline condition of the trough-shaped portion
of the mangrove wetlands. The problem is further aggravated by the reduction in the
inflow of freshwater. It was also observed that the hyper saline pore water found in
the trough shaped areas moves laterally to the adjacent healthy mangrove trees and
kills them (called shoot die back syndrome).

The density of Muthupet mangroves is very high, but the true mangrove
species diversity is low when compared to the mangroves of Pichavaram (Muniyandi,
1985). The Muthupet mangrove wetland is characterized by the presence of
Avicennia marina, Aegiceras corniculatum, Excocaria agallocha, Acanthus ilicifolius,
Rhizophora mucronatoa and Lumnitzera racemosa. The species diversity in
Muthupet is dominated by single species Avicennia marina constituting more than
95% of the total population. The population of the other species in mangrove wetland
is very limited. In the Muthupet mangrove wetland, the zonation or spatial distribution
pattern of a flora shows two distinct zone viz., Avicennia zone and degraded zone.
The former is characterized by the presence of dense evergreen Avicennia marina 38 m followed by Aegiceras corniculatum and Excocaria agallocha as small bushed of
1-2 m. This zone occurs in the fringe area of tidal creeks, manmade fishing canals
and along the muddy shore of the Palk Strait. Palynological studies carried out in
Muthupet mangrove wetland indicate that true mangrove species belonging to
Rhizophoraceae were the dominant species about 150 years ago, but now they are
locally extinct (Caratini et.al., 1973). The problem of cattle grazing in mangrove forest
is very limited.

Six species of sea grasses, and 7 genera and 10 species of seaweeds were
observed in the lagoon. Decrease in water salinity during monsoon influences the
occurrence of fresh water hydrophytes. Kalidasan (1991) reported 76 species of
phytoplankton and 90 species of zooplankton. Diatoms are the dominant groups of
phytoplankton followed by dinoflagellates, chlorophyceans and cyanophyceans.
Among the Zooplankton, copepods dominate and other groups are tintinnids and
rotifers. Macrobenthos found at Muthupet are mollusks and polychaetes, and
crustaceans.

Traditional fishing method known as canal fishing is being practiced. The


people belonging to 26 hamlets of 16 revenue villages with a total population of about
35,900 depend on the fishery and forestry resources of Muthupet. Fishing in
mangrove waters is only seasonal. A preliminary estimate indicates that about 106
tons of fish and shellfish is harvested every year from this mangrove wetland.
Pandian (1985) recorded 73 species of finfish in Muthupet mangrove wetland, the
local fishers consider only 30 species are commonly occurring. Apart from fish, the
lagoon is rich in prawns and crabs.

Most of the saltpans produce salts for industrial chemicals. Out of the 14
saltpans, the Salt Corporation of the Government of India owns 13, while the
Tamilnadu Salt Corporation Ltd. owns one. The saltpans located on the western part
of the Muthupet mangroves wetland draw seawater from the Palk Strait through
canals for salt production. The canals are about 2 m wide and 1 m deep and about
4 km long. The saltpans located on the eastern side of the Muthupet RF use highsaline groundwater which is pumped into the pans. The average salinity of the water
in the lagoon varies widely. During monsoon season, salinity varies from 5-15 PSU;
during summer, it touches a high of 45 PSU with higher values in the north and
eastern portion of the lagoon. In some parts of Muthupet mangroves wetlands, water
salinity as high as 75 PSU had been recorded (Selvam, 1992). Soil salinity ranges
from 12.5 to 125 PSU.

Apart from saltpans, 27 prawn farms are located close to the mangrove
forest, covering about 1000 acres. Of these, 796 acres are located on the western
side of the Muthupet mangrove wetlands and 204 acres on the eastern side. All
these farms draw water either from the sea through canals or from the mangrove
wetland. Water exchange is done once in 3 days. The water level maintained in the
farms is about 110 to 115 cm. About 250 to 350 kg of lime is used per 0.5 ha of pond

to increase the soil salinity. A variety of antibiotics such as oxytetracycline, wolmid,


muzophore and germicides are used to control diseases. Prawn farms discharge
their effluents into the mangrove water.

3.0 OBJECTIVES OF THE PRESENT STUDY


 To assess the health of the Muthupet lagoon and analyse the impacts from
sea and land based activities
 To arrive remedial measures for the wetland ecosystem from natural changes
and human perturbations through ecosystem modeling approach

4.0 METHODOLOGY
In the management of coastal ecosystem, the first step would be to divide the
coastal zone based on its environmental sensitivity into four zones preservation,
conservation, utilization and development zones based on certain criteria.
Preservation zone is the area where no development is allowed and is protected from
degradation. In this zone, construction activity, waste disposal, dredging, etc., are not
permitted and controlled recreation is allowed. Conservation zone is essentially area
between the preservation and utilization/development zone. In

this

zone,

development is carefully controlled to protect the environment. Utilisation zone is the


area, which is already put to some use and has reduced ecological, recreational and
public importance. Development zone is the area which is not being used adequately
and requires some minor alterations. Based on the above principles, the following
activities are undertaken in the project

 Assessment of present status of the chemical and biological components of


the Muthupet lagoon

10

 Seasonal monitoring of physical, chemical and biological parameters to


assess the circulation pattern and dynamics of the lagoon
 Identification of zones of low, moderate and high mixing through ecosystem
modeling
 To study the impact of land based activities on the areas adjoining the
ecosystem
 Development of remedial measures for the conservation of the ecosystem

5.0 DATA COLLECTION:

Basemap of Muthupet was prepared from SOI toposheets and updated with
PAN data. Ground Control Points were located using GPS and PAN data (June
2003) was geo-referenced to compute the water spread area of Muthupet lagoon.

Primary data on lagoon characteristics was collected during September 2003


(SW monsoon), November-December 2003 (NE monsoon), May 2004 (Premonsoon)
and July 2004 (SW monsoon). Muthupet Lagoon was monitored twice during
September and November-December 2003. During May 2004, Palk Strait was
studied by monitoring five transects. However, during July 2004 both lagoon as well
as nearshore waters off lagoon were monitored. The location maps of the respective
periods are given in Figures 2-5.

5.1 Sampling and Analytical methods:

Tide gauges (Valeport) and Current Meters (RCM9, Aanderaa) were


deployed at mouth of Muthupet lagoon and Chief Corner Point during September
2003 and November-December 2003. They were also deployed at mouth as well as
10 m station off Muthupet lagoon during May 2004. U-mooring technique was used

11

for coastal deployment of these instruments whereas standard mooring frames were
used for lagoon deployments. Both tide and current were set to read at every 15
seconds and recorded the average of 10 minute interval. The data was recorded for
15, 15 and 30 days each in respective seasons. Data on bathymetry of the lagoon
(50 x 50 m grid) was collected using pole.

Water samples in the rivers, lagoon and coastal waters for different seasons
were collected in polyethylene bottles using Niskin samplers, ice preserved in the
field and immediately brought to laboratory for further analysis. Salinity and pH were
measured either in situ using calibrated probes (WTW) or in the lab by argentimetry
(salinity) with a reproducibility within 5% and 2%. Dissolved oxygen was measured
by Winklers method. A part of each water sample was filtered through 0.45 m
membrane filter and the filtrate was used to estimate dissolved nutrients following the
methods described by Grasshoff et al. (1999). Chlorophyll was measured
spectrophotometrically by extracting the pigments in 90% acetone.

During November-December 2003, flow measurements were carried out at all


the river ends as well as at sea end using floats for every 15 minutes during day time.
The cross-sectional area of all these points were calculated and discharge was
estimated.

12

FIG 2. Stations location map for September 2003.

ESRI's WWW Home Page.lnk

New Lagoon

FIG 3. Station location map for Nov-Dec 2003

13

FIG 4. Coastal Stations location map for May 2004.

FIG 5. Lagoon and Coastal Stations location map for July 2004.

14

6.0 HYDRODYNAMICS OF THE LAGOON:

The lagoon is connected to the Palk Strait by a wide mouth located at the
southern part of the mangroves. Twenty years before, the mouth was about 2.5 km
wide and 2-2.5 m deep; today the mouth is just 1 km wide and not even 1 m deep.
Though the mouth is about 1 km wide, seawater enters the lagoon only through a
narrow passage about 100-200 m wide. Also the mouth never closed completely, but
there is a fear that this may happen soon, considering the rate at which the width of
the mouth is shrinking. It is found that no sand is deposited in the mouth region, it is
only the fine silt brought from the sea that is being deposited (Selvam et al., 2003).

Muthupet lagoon is a shallow water body with an average depth of 0.3-0.6 m


during low tide and 0.9-1.2 m during high tide. The eastern portion of the lagoon is
very shallow and the average depth is about 0.3 m. Owing to extreme shallowness,
the lagoon is highly influenced by the wind turbulence churning the bottom
sediments, the fine clay is continuously kept under suspension giving the lagoon a
brown carpet appearance. Because of the shallowness, the wind induced currents
dominate the tidal currents.

The seawater exchange is predominantly by tide which is semi-diurnal in


nature. The mean tidal range is about 0.3 m during spring and 0.15 m during neap at
the mouth, measured using Valeport Tide gauge during September 2003 (Fig.6).

15

FIG 6. Measured Tide at mouth of Muthupet Lagoon during September 2003.

6.1 Two-dimensional Model:

A two dimensional hydrodynamic model using MIKE 21 developed by Delft


Hydraulics Ltd., Netherlands was constructed using the data collected during
September 2003. The baseline is drawn from the satellite image. The collected
bathymetry is corrected to chart datum using the tide measured at mouth of the
lagoon (Fig.6) during the same period. The hourly averaged tide data collected at the
mouth is given as open boundary whereas zero flux is given at all the river ends as
the period corresponds to dry weather. The tidal reversing current vectors on the
bathymetry map of the lagoon is depicted in Figure 7.

16

High Tide
Lagoon
Shallow zone
New Lagoon

Mouth

Low Tide

FIG 7. Tidal reversing Current vectors plots over bathymetry of lagoon.

17

The model output infers that the geometry of the lagoon contributes to the
bathymetry of the lagoon. The tidal water from mouth traverses a narrow channel
(though channel is 1 km wide, the effective navigable channel is only 200 m) for a
distance of about 3.5 km before it suddenly opened into wide lagoon, resulting in
dropping of tidal height and thereby current intensity. Added to this, good amount of
tidal water from mouth enters into the new lagoon (formed in recent years which also
harbours dense mangroves) situated close to the mouth. In other words the existing
mouth is the common entrance for neritic waters to both Muthupet lagoon and new
lagoon. The combined effects of geometry of lagoon and sharing of tidal water by
both the lagoons are clearly seen by dropping of peak tidal height from about 0.1 m
at mouth to about 0.035 m in the lagoon for the simulation period with a tidal phase
lag of 2 hrs between the mouth and Muthupet lagoon station (Fig.8). Because of
these weak tidal currents, there is no sufficient driving force to transport the
suspended matter out of the lagoon. Hence, the lagoon remains turbid for most part
of the year and this has a major role in controlling the chemistry and biology of the
lagoon.

FIG 8. Comparison of Tide at Mouth and Lagoon for the simulation period.

18

7.0 WATER QUALITY:

During September 2003, time series observations were made at three


locations viz., mouth, chief corner point (CCP) and upstream of Koraiyar river close
to aquaculture ponds (Fig.2). Though the water quality did not show definite trend
over time scale, it showed spatial variation between the stations (Table 1).

Table 1.Average Water quality of time-series observations at selected locations


during September 2003.
Station

pH

Salinity

DO

SPM

NO2

NH3

NO3

PO4

Chl a

Spring
Mouth

8.27

31.89

4.69

384

0.26

0.34

3.36

0.50

0.039

CCP

8.28

37.81

5.15

386

0.82

0.23

3.76

0.73

0.039

Aqua

8.18

41.05

3.71

161

2.86

1.51

2.99

2.08

0.020

Neap
Mouth

8.47

33.93

5.30

227

0.37

0.58

1.38

0.20

0.014

CCP

8.43

41.05

5.28

238

0.24

0.48

3.08

0.58

0.023

Aqua

8.37

43.61

4.09

142

4.85

1.45

12.31

0.97

0.015

Units: DO & SPM mg l-1; nutrients - M; Chl a mg m-3.

The salinity in the upstream areas are very high due to discharge/seepage of
high saline wastes from aquaculture ponds which decrease gradually during spring
and sharply during neap towards mouth (Table 1). Spring-neap tidal variation on
salinity at these stations is clearly seen with high values during neap due to less
dilution from sea end. Low DO and high nitrite and ammonia at aquaculture site are
the results of these activities indicating possible denitrification at this site. The
nutrient levels at chief corner point and mouth are much less than that observed at
aquaculture site indicating that the pollutants released upstream are not getting
dispersed to farther distances towards downstream, due to occurrence of insufficient
driving mechanism (either river discharge or tidal current), but settled to bottom at the

19

vicinity itself. All the stations are highly turbid although the aquaculture site is
relatively less turbid.

The random sampling undertaken in the lagoon during September 2003 also
revealed hypersaline and extreme turbid conditions (Table 2). High salinity could be
attributed to zero runoff coupled with high evaporation. Lagoon waters are well
oxygenated but poor in nutrients and plankton. The poor nutrients can be attributed
to the lack of their supply from the terrain and upstream areas due to poor flushing
conditions. The plankton productivity as observed from chlorophyll concentrations are
also very less which is consistent with the nutrient levels. Owing to poor nutrient
availability and insufficient flushing conditions, the flux of nutrients from the lagoon to
Palk Strait are expected to be less during this season.

Table 2.Water quality at different stations in the lagoon during September 2003.
Station

pH

Salinity

DO

SPM

NO2

NH3

NO3

PO4

Chl a

8.26

42.01

6.16

175

0.02

0.14

0.06

0.24

0.016

8.15

42.21

4.25

125

0.02

0.69

1.23

0.24

0.003

8.07

45.21

5.52

194

0.90

ND

2.23

0.32

0.003

8.10

45.41

4.77

242

0.38

0.31

2.14

0.24

0.005

8.22

45.01

5.78

166

0.65

1.03

1.76

0.45

0.010

8.22

45.01

6.73

361

0.54

0.41

0.47

0.29

0.016

8.14

43.81

6.10

248

0.43

ND

0.33

0.33

0.016

8.10

43.61

5.70

219

0.65

0.28

0.42

0.71

0.010

7.97

40.21

5.62

388

2.81

0.44

1.23

0.48

0.010

10

7.98

41.21

5.24

1515

0.62

0.75

1.52

0.35

0.008

11

8.03

45.01

6.35

328

0.40

0.39

1.61

0.30

0.005

12

8.30

43.41

6.05

586

2.14

0.25

1.42

0.36

0.022

13

8.21

41.21

4.25

172

0.44

0.39

0.95

0.23

0.022

Units: DO & SPM - mg l-1; nutrients - M; Chl a - mg m-3.

20

The lagoon witnessed large scale changes during November-December 2003


which corresponds to NE monsoon, the active monsoon for the area. With the
reversal of salinity due to monsoon discharge through the distributaries, the lagoon
has become mere fresh water body dominated by uni-directional flow towards the
sea. The total rivers discharge during this period was estimated to be at 3.86 x 106
m3 d-1. The maximum salinity encountered at the mouth was only 9.62 PSU which
progressively decreased to 4.33 PSU at stn.8 (Fig.3; Table 3). The rest of the body
was dominated by mere fresh water with salinity between 0.6 and 2.0 PSU.
Dissolved oxygen was generally high (6.6 - 9.5 mg l-1). The pH at stns. 6, 7 and 8
were between 8.6 and 9.0 influenced by the discharge of Koraiyar river while pH at
rest of the stations was between 8.9 and 9.2. Inverse correlation was found between
salinity and pH implying that fresh water inputs increase levels of pH in the lagoon.

The monsoon discharge during this season carried the terrestrial and
upstream nutrients into the lagoon due to which the lagoon nutrients are several fold
higher than the dry period. Distributions of dissolved phosphorus and nitrogen in the
lagoon varied spatially. Dissolved inorganic phosphorus (DIP) dominated the
distribution of total dissolved phosphorus (TDP), but dissolved organic nitrogen
(DON) dominated over its inorganic fraction (Table 3). Among DIN species, nitrate
was the most predominant form. Extreme eastern side of the lagoon is very shallow
and exhibited 2 to 5 times high nitrite and nitrate concentrations than rest of the
lagoon. Concentrations of DIP and DIN were relatively high in the river inlets and low
at the mouth. These spatial patterns of nutrients reflect the influence of riverine flux
and tidal mixing. Hydrochemical variability is likely to influence the nutrient
biogeochemistry in the lagoon.

21

Table 3. Water quality at different stations in the lagoon during Nov-Dec 2003.
Station

pH

Salinity

DO

SPM

NO2

NH3

NO3

PO4

TP

TN

9.26

1.43

7.35

177

8.38

1.32

11.82

0.90

3.35

59.3

8.91

1.23

6.80

873

8.35

1.18

11.65

1.21

1.48

79.0

9.10

0.61

7.76

224

2.38

2.05

10.25

0.83

1.09

47.6

9.09

0.82

8.05

245

3.00

1.64

7.96

0.82

1.20

58.3

9.07

0.82

6.95

384

1.63

1.10

4.27

0.88

1.26

71.4

8.95

1.86

7.06

56

0.92

2.06

0.17

0.80

1.07

71.7

8.50

0.83

6.50

124

2.24

2.13

5.53

0.80

1.54

73.6

8.66

4.33

6.55

146

2.70

1.64

2.17

0.79

1.15

70.8

12

9.11

1.86

9.50

89

1.18

1.54

4.40

0.12

0.85

84.9

13
Mouth

9.01

6.18

9.80

88

1.54

1.22

3.38

0.37

1.28

72.1

--

9.62

--

356

0.03

0.07

0.90

0.33

2.00

40.5

-1

-3

Units: DO & SPM - mg l ; nutrients - M; Chl a - mg m .

During May 2004, five coastal transects each off Thondi (A), Gopalapattinam
(B), Athirampattinam (C), Muthupet (D) and Serthalaikaadu (E) were monitored. Each
transect covers four stations each having sonic depth of 5, 10, 15 and 20 m
respectively (Fig.4). There is no definite trend observed for any parameter with either
distance from coast or depth. Overall, the coastal waters exhibited low salinity (23-31
PSU) probably due to rain prior to this observation (Table 4). The waters are highly
oxygenated and close to saturation reflecting that the system is capable of respiring
additional load of organic matter. The nutrient levels in the coastal waters are much
less than those in the Muthupet lagoon. The low nutrient levels are the result of their
uptake by high density of phytoplankton (3.23 x 105 to 2.12 x 107 nos l-1).
Unfortunately, the collected chlorophyll samples were spoiled because of the failure
of refrigeration. Highest density of phytoplankton was noticed at 5 and 10 m off
Muthupet (Table 4) but it is too speculative to comment that it is due to discharge
from the Muthupet lagoon as this feature is not reflected in salinity and nutrient

22

levels. More over the extent of discharges from Muthupet lagoon into the Palk Strait
is not clear. It is to note that the average tide recorded at the mouth of Muthupet
lagoon is 30 cm whereas the same at 10 m station off this transect (about 8-10 km
from the mouth) is about 40 cm during this season indicating that the tidal current is
very weak and seasonally varying very high wind induced currents are required to
transport the lagoon discharges to longer distances in the Palk Strait.

Satellite remote sensing studies showed that Palk Strait is heavily turbid
coinciding with very low chlorophyll values (personal communication from NRSA).
But in reality, these reported high sediment values could be an effect of bottom
reflection due to shallowness by the satellite sensors. Owing to have gentle slope,
these shallow waters are also highly influenced by wind stress ie. high turbidity
during high winds and vice versa. The study period is characterised by low to
moderate winds due to which the coastal waters though relatively less in turbid
dominated by rich phytoplankton (Table 4). So, the time of passing of satellite and
wind intensities during that period need to be related to ascertain the real picture.
Based on the visual observation (green colour of water) and water quality data, it is to
be pointed out that Palk Strait is inherently highly productive but is masked by
turbidity cloud during windy times.
During July 2004, apart from lagoon observations, five near coastal transects
off Muthupet lagoon were monitored for water quality to elucidate the impact, if any
due to discharges from the lagoon on the immediate receiving environment. Out of
the five transects, one is selected off lagoon and the other two were located at 0.5
and 1.5 km on either side of this transect. Each transect comprises five stations each
separated by 1 km distance (Fig.5). The lagoon salinity during this season was high
compared to coastal waters (Table 5) but less to those observed during September
2003 (Table 2). Though both the periods correspond to dry season, the differences in

23

salinity is due to variable evaporation rates. The turbidity in the lagoon is very high
and relatively low in the nearshore waters which are comparable to our previous
observations. There are no significant differences in the oxygen and nutrients levels
in these two environments suggesting that the processes controlling their levels are
common. Nitrogen species is dominated by nitrate. Ammonia levels are very low
inferring less decomposition of biogenic material. However, chlorophyll levels in the
lagoon are relatively higher than the nearshore waters. The above results conclude
that the nearshore waters in this season are self sustained and not influenced by
lagoon.

24

24.1
25.8
-30.5

D1
8.60 8.50
D2
8.40 8.40
D3
--D4
8.30 8.50
Serthalaikaadu

25.8
30.8
-30.8

27.9
30.0
28.3
27.2
4.8
7.4
-4.8

8.6
7.4
7.0
6.8

6.4
6.8
6.6
7.0

7.4
7.8
9.0
7.6

DO

7.0
3.2
-8.2

7.4
7.2
7.0
6.8

7.0
9.0
7.2
7.6

6.4
7.6
7.6
8.2

67
81
-70

89
78
86
88

65
49
73
69

175
100
-85

72
62
61
71

54
41
72
63

54
61
78
129

SPM

71
77
63
66

0.68
0.21
-0.58

0.37
0.58
0.26
0.63

0.58
2.74
0.42
0.79

0.37
0.26
-0.37

0.26
0.16
ND
0.26

0.16
ND
0.79
0.37

0.89
ND
0.95
ND

NH3

0.53
0.21
1.05
0.53

E1
8.30 8.50 26.4 25.4
6.8
7.0
124 201 0.26 0.68
E2
8.30 8.60 24.1 23.6
6.8
6.4
79
92
1.37 0.42
E3
8.40 8.30 25.2 24.7
6.6
6.4
72
78
0.16 1.42
E4
8.60 8.20 23.8 24.5
7.0
6.8
66
77
ND
ND
ND : Non-Detectable.
-1
6 -1
Units: DO & SPM - mg l ; nutrients - M; Phytoplankton (PP) - nos x 10 l .

27.1
28.6
26.8
27.4

8.50
8.50
8.40
8.50

C1
8.60
C2
8.30
C3
8.50
C4
8.50
Muthupet

27.9
24.4
25.2
23.8

27.0
25.1
24.9
26.2

Salinity
S
B

23.9
24.1
23.6
25.9

B1
8.70 8.30
B2
8.60 8.60
B3
ND 8.40
B4
8.20 8.60
Athirampattinam

pH

25.9
25.3
27.2
26.4

A1
8.60 8.50
A2
8.50 8.50
A3
8.50 8.50
A4
8.20 8.60
Gopalapattinam

Thondi

Stn

0.26
0.28
0.07
0.07

ND
0.07
-0.22

0.07
0.04
0.09
0.15

ND
0.15
ND
ND

0.13
1.67
0.11
0.07

0.11
0.2
-0.24

ND
ND
0.02
0.09

0.09
ND
ND
0.07

0.02
0.02
ND
0.18

NO2

0.06
ND
0.09
0.02

Table 4. Water quality at different stations in the Palk Strait during May 2004.

1.32
3.22
3.65
2.17

1.07
2.7
-0.95

1.25
1.35
0.57
0.98

1.73
0.13
0.72
1.26

1.67
5.71
0.96
0.81

1.25
3.42
-2.41

1.04
1.17
1.24
0.98

0.76
ND
1.8
0.81

2.63
1.11
0.88
ND

NO3

0.44
1.2
1.08
1.05

0.08
0.09
ND
0.21

0.05
0.25
-0.15

0.07
0.14
0.17
0.09

0.05
0.08
0.15
0.45

0.25
0.11
0.09
0.03

0.28
0.06
-0.09

0.02
0.06
0.08
0.03

ND
0.01
0.03
0.02

0.08
0.05
ND
0.08

PO4

0.11
0.64
0.55
0.04

0.13
0.31
0.78
0.28

0.25
0.16
-0.72

0.19
0.06
0.13
0.19

0.13
0.19
0.06
0.44

0.38
0.59
0.34
0.16

TP

0.22
0.19
0.97
1.19

2.13
1.81
-1.22

0.34
1.19
0.56
0.41

0.69
0.91
0.19
0.72

0.16
0.16
0.06
0.41

TN
B

16.27 7.93
23.41 16.63
7.61 16.59
11.50 8.61

9.21 8.66
14.20 21.72
--14.94 16.13

10.58 10.95
13.98 13.88
10.63 7.88
11.55 15.26

14.43 10.31
19.57 10.31
10.04 8.11
13.93 7.51

17.64 15.21
24.42 7.97
8.94 11.64
11.04 22.27

-2.29
0.32
0.34

21.18
10.78
-6.67

3.94
3.88
0.64
2.37

2.19
0.40
6.66
6.31

2.05
0.86
2.04
2.47

PP
S

Table 5. Water quality at different stations in the lagoon during July 2004.
Stn

pH

Sal

SPM

DO

NO2

NH3

NO3

PO4

TP

TN

Chl

8.28
9.01
11.29
7.28
4.61
3.06
4.61
6.12
4.18
4.27

0.18
0.19
0.22
0.24
0.20
0.19
0.22
0.25
0.24
0.19

5.31
-6.50
5.50
4.19
7.69
7.38
8.44
8.00
8.44

20.62
29.38
41.23
34.02
18.55
42.78
39.17
28.35
37.62
41.23

---1.04
3.03
3.62
--2.76
3.07

0.15
0.24
0.24
0.22
0.26
0.11
0.15
0.15
0.11
0.14
0.17
0.15
0.18
0.26
0.22
0.15
0.15
0.19
0.24
0.22
0.31
0.33
0.41
0.29
0.35

4.63
5.13
5.75
4.75
4.25
3.56
3.50
3.69
3.44
3.06
2.63
3.69
3.88
3.44
3.56
4.00
3.75
2.63
3.00
3.31
3.25
3.44
3.31
3.06
2.44

22.16
32.47
40.72
48.96
76.28
23.71
24.22
25.25
19.07
14.95
11.85
13.92
16.49
18.55
20.62
25.77
18.55
9.28
12.37
17.01
25.25
18.55
10.31
11.85
14.43

0.21
0.22
0.09
0.08
0.30
0.17
0.13
0.14
0.18
0.18
0.25
0.16
0.04
0.09
0.13
2.69
2.20
1.40
0.78
0.14
0.74
1.01
1.49
1.16
0.91

Lagoon
R1
R2
R3
R4
R5
R6
R7
R8
R9
R10
A1
A2
A3
A4
A5
B1
B2
B3
B4
B5
C1
C2
C3
C4
C5
D1
D2
D3
D4
D5
E1
E2
E3
E4
E5
Units:

8.46
8.40
8.34
8.39
8.40
8.41
8.45
8.34
8.11
8.32

31.43
31.62
31.25
31.43
45.76
37.94
38.84
41.55
36.31
36.85

370 7.35 0.28 0.15


261 8.32 0.22 0.22
180 6.71 0.29 0.27
189 8.97 0.44 0.02
194 8.64 0.29 0.03
190 10.58 0.55 0.01
201 11.23 0.46 0.12
219 10.58 0.38 0.13
198 8.32 0.36 0.11
194 8.64 0.36 0.01
Coastal

8.43 31.62
74 7.68 1.32 0.02
7.89
8.39 31.43
74 8.00 1.22 0.04
6.34
8.40 31.07
75 7.35 0.98 0.02
2.54
8.45 30.53
80 8.32 1.10 0.04
3.23
8.44 32.52
84 8.32 1.00 0.06
5.47
8.36 29.27
72 7.35 1.00 0.01
3.15
8.25 29.27
77 8.00 1.00 0.01
3.62
8.37 29.45
85 7.35 1.22 0.02
4.31
8.52 29.81
81 8.97 0.89 0.02
5.00
8.31 31.80
77 8.00 0.79 0.04
5.60
8.28 32.88
67 10.26 0.45 0.02
1.08
8.17 35.05
78 8.00 0.15 0.02
4.74
8.49 32.70
86 8.00 1.22 0.02
6.47
8.39 33.06
75 8.32 1.01 0.03
5.99
8.40 37.58
72 8.64 1.00 0.02
5.60
8.06 32.16
159 6.39 1.01 0.02
3.88
8.10 32.52
120 8.32 1.02 0.02
2.80
8.04 32.88
82 6.71 1.03 0.01
0.04
8.03 32.88
80 5.42 1.26 0.01
0.05
8.08 36.85
87 8.00 0.77 0.01
0.04
8.08 31.07
134 8.32 0.54 0.10
3.58
8.03 31.62
118 8.00 0.58 0.01
3.88
8.06 32.70
95 8.64 0.59 0.10
3.79
8.09 33.42
92 8.32 0.66 0.05
4.70
8.10 36.49
94 7.35 0.57 0.13
5.82
DO & SPM mg l-1; nutrients - M; Chl a mg m-3.

8.0

BUDGETS:

Anthropogenic nutrient inputs, in recent decades, into coastal seas have


generally increased steadily (GESAMP, 1987; Rabalais et al., 1996; Moffat, 1998), a
phenomenon that may enhance primary production and provide an additional sink for
atmospheric carbon. Simultaneously, however, natural and human derived organic
matter discharged into coastal seas may be partially or totally respired, providing a
source of carbon dioxide. Despite difficulty in obtaining carbon and nutrient budgets
through direct observations and syntheses, biogeochemists have employed various
models to simulate nutrient and carbon budgets in well-defined systems applying
simplified calculations to existing data (Kaul & Froelich, 1984; Billen, et al., 1985;
Smith et al., 1991; Yanagi, 1999; McKee et al., 2000). Meanwhile, LOICZ (LandOcean Interactions in the Coastal Zone) has developed the Biogeochemical
Modelling Guidelines (Gordon et al., 1996) to implement nutrient and carbon
budgets. This model has been widely tested and used for C-N-P budgets in estuarine
and coastal systems (Hall et al., 1996; Smith & Crossland, 1999; Smith et al., 1999,
Dupra et al., 2000). The nutrient budgets from Mahanadi and Mandovi rivers of India
were studied by National Institute of Oceanography, Goa and the results were made
available in the LOICZ website. Coastal typology is applied for global synthesis in
coastal carbon and nutrient budgets (Pernetta & Milliman, 1995; Buddemeier &
Maxwell, 2000). This study aims to illustrate the nutrient budgets in the lagoon which
may be associated with variations of external inputs and internal transformation.

8.1 Biogeochemical Model approach

The biogeochemical fluxes of nutrients in the lagoon are estimated using


LOICZ (Land-Ocean Interactions in the Coastal Zone) biogeochemical budget model
(Gordon et al., 1996). This biogeochemical budget is a steady-state box model from

27

which, nonconservative nutrient budgets can be constructed from nonconservative


distributions of nutrients and water budgets which in turn are constrained from the
salt balance under a steady-state assumption. The nonsconservative flux of a
material is estimated from the flux deviation between inputs and outputs based on
salt and water balances. Because of the distinct variability in freshwater and material
inputs with time, water and nutrient budgets estimated from a box model for the
lagoon are valid by assuming steady-state (the estuarine volume change with time is
constant, dV/dt = 0) conditions during the observation period.

By using salt as a conservative tracer, the water budget for the lagoon can be
derived from the balance of salt transported through the lagoon. The conceptual
model for transport of materials in the system is:

outputs

inputs
s

System

Net Sources
or Sinks

The process can be described as follows:


dM
------ =
dt

inputs

outputs

(Sources Sinks)

where, dM/dt is a change of mass of material of interest. Assuming that the system is
at steady state (dM/dt = 0), water and salt budgets for Muthupet Lagoon are
calculated and presented.

28

Inflow includes runoff, direct precipitation, ground water seepage, etc. and
removal includes evaporation. There was zero precipitation during the period of
survey and ground water seepage is assumed to be negligible, as the soil is clay.
Being the period of study as intense monsoon, the water flux due to evaporation was
assumed to be less than 5% of the water holding capacity of the lagoon and so
ignored (Gordon et al., 1996).

8.2 Water Budgets


Water budgets are critical in deriving nutrient budgets in the lagoon. Based on
the salt balance in the box model, the fresh water inputs, residual and mixing flows
were estimated. The Figure 9 illustrates water budget for the lagoon. A significant
difference in salinity between the lagoon and oceanic system is required for the
model to reliably determine the salt and water balances. Since the evaporative
outflow was assumed to be insignificant, the river inflows (3.86 x 106 m3 d-1) was
balanced by the residual outflow. The mixing flux was calculated as 2.98 x 106 m3 d-1,
about 77% of the total fresh water inputs, apparently indicating that lagoon is
dominated by river influx and its characteristics. Both residual and mixing fluxes were
negative indicating that their direction was towards the Palk Strait.

The water exchange time in the system () was calculated as the total water
volume of the system divided by the sum of the absolute value of residual flow and
mixing volume. Accordingly, the water exchange time for Muthupet lagoon is 1.4
days. The water budget of the lagoon was apparently controlled by both fresh water
inputs and exchange rates.

29

8.3 Nutrient Budgets

A summary of salinity and nutrient levels used for the budget estimations are
given in Table 6. System concentrations of nutrients were determined partly by
mixing flux and internal transformation in the lagoon. The residence times of nutrients
(DIP, DOP, DIN and DON), which are a function of their inventory and the residual
and exchange fluxes in the lagoon (Table 7), were longer than the exchange time of
the lagoon water. Eventhough the nutrient concentrations and their longer residence
times in the lagoon are sufficient to trigger the phytoplankton production, high
sediment resuspension (Table 2), due to wind driven mixing in the shallow body,
inhibit their growth.

Table 6. Salinity and Nutrient concentrations in the study locations.


Parameter

Rivers

Lagoon

Ocean

Salinity (PSU)

0.83

2.06

9.62

DIP (M)

0.73

0.74

0.33

DOP (M)

0.37

0.48

1.67

DIN (M)

9.04

9.81

1.00

DON (M)

47.53

60.13

39.49

Table 7. Nutrient fluxes in the Muthupet Lagoon.


Parameter
DIP

River flux
(103 mol d-1)
2.82

Residual flux
(103 mol d-1)
-2.07

Mixing flux
(103 mol d-1)
-1.22

(days)
2.2

DOP

1.43

-4.15

3.55

0.6

DIN

34.93

-20.88

-26.29

2.0

DON

183.64

-192.45

-61.60

2.3

The nutrient budgets are illustrated in Figures 10-12. The nonconservative


behaviours of DIP, DOP, DIN and DON were evident from their non-linear

30

distributions against salinity. Physical and biogeochemical processes may be


responsible for their nonconservative removal (flux) from the lagoon. The
nonconservative flux of DIP (DIP) is derived from the difference between total inputs
and outputs (Table 8). Total inputs were the fluxes from the river, and are denoted as
positive values. Total outputs were summed from residual and mixing fluxes which
were negative because lagoon concentrations exceeded oceanic concentrations.
Similar calculations were applied for nonconservative fluxes of DIN and DON using
data from Table 6. However, the mixing flux of DOP is positive as oceanic
concentrations are higher than the lagoon concentrations, hence considered as input.
A positive nonconservative flux () indicates that the lagoon is a source for the
nutrient while negative flux indicates the lagoon is acting as a sink. The applied
LOICZ model does not reveal the details concerning pathways for nutrient sources
and sinks in the system. The very low primary production within the lagoon, as
indicated by extremely low chlorophyll values (Table 2), which was apparently limited
by light due to high turbidity, do not appear to permit significant biological removal.
Owing to brown carpet appearance, the particles are in continuous contact with
solution, sediment-water ion exchange is significant particularly when the drainage
basin is rich in humic substances (Sarma et al., 2001). Eventhough there were no
studies available on the humic content of Muthupet, it is expected that the systems
influenced by runoff through mangroves will have high content of humic materials in
dissolved, particulate and sedimentary fractions (Sardessai, 1993). Owing to the
presence of organic rich suspended sediments which ultimately inhibit productivity by
masking the light availability, the lagoon is expected to be respiration dominated and
so the nutrients production exceed their consumption. Hence, the release of nutrients
from the mineralisation of sediment organic matter is expected to be the main source
for DIN, DON and DIP.

31

Muthupet Lagoon
River discharge 3.86

Area
= 13.32 km2
Volume = 9.6 x 106 m3
Salinity = 2.06 PSU
Exchange Time () = 1.4 days

3.86

Residual flux

-22.56 Mixing salt flux

River salinity = 0.83 PSU


Ocean salinity = 9.62 PSU
Residual salinity = 5.84 PSU

FIG 9. Water and Salt budgets for the Muthupet Lagoon. Water flux in
106 m3 d-1 and salt flux in 106 psu m3 d-1.

Muthupet Lagoon
River DIP 2.81

DIP = 0.74 M
DIP = 0.46
Exchange Time () = 2.2 days

2.06

Residual DIP

-1.21

Mixing DIP

Ocean DIP = 0.33 M


Residual DIP = 0.53 M

FIG 10. Dissolved Inorganic Phosphate budget for the Muthupet Lagoon.
Flux in 103 mol d-1.

32

Muthupet Lagoon
River DOP 1.42

DOP = 0.48 M
DOP = -0.83
Exchange Time () = 0.6 days

4.15

Residual DOP

3.56

Mixing DOP

Ocean DOP = 1.67 M


Residual DOP = 1.07 M

FIG 11. Dissolved Organic Phosphate budget for the Muthupet Lagoon.
Flux in 103 mol d-1.

Muthupet Lagoon
River DIN 34.94

DIN = 9.81 M
DIN = 12.23
Exchange Time () = 2.0 days

20.88

Residual DIN

-26.29

Mixing DIN

Ocean DIN = 1.00 M


Residual DIN = 5.40 M

FIG 12. Dissolved Inorganic Nitrogen budget for the Muthupet Lagoon.
Flux in 103 mol d-1.

Muthupet Lagoon
River DON

184

DON = 60.13 M
DON = 70.4
Exchange Time () = 2.3 days

192

Residual DON

-61.6

Mixing DON

Ocean DON = 39.5 M


Residual DON = 49.8 M

FIG 13. Dissolved Organic Nitrogen budget for the Muthupet Lagoon.
Flux in 103 mol d-1.

33

Table 8. Non-conservative nutrient fluxes.


Flux (103 mol d-1)

Flux (mmol m-2 d-1)

DIP

0.46

0.03

DOP

-0.83

-0.06

DIN

12.23

0.92

DON

70.40

5.28

Nutrient

A comparison of nutrient fluxes from lagoon to Palk Strait between wet and
dry periods is illustrated in Table 9.

Table 9. Nutrient fluxes into Palk Strait in different seasons.


Parameter
DIP

Wet Season
(Nov-Dec 2003)
2.07

Dry Season
(July 2004)
0.28

DOP

4.15

8.10

DIN

20.88

13.73

192.45

18.80

DON
3

-1

Units: 10 mol d

From the above table, it is very clear that the DIP and DON fluxes during wet
period are almost ten times higher whereas DIN fluxes are higher by 50% and DOP
fluxes are lower by 50% compared to dry season. This shows that nutrient inputs
from lagoon vary seasonally which could have significant influence on the
productivity of Palk Strait.

34

9.0 LAGOON ECO-RESTORATION THROUGH MODELLING STUDIES:

The hydrodynamic modelling studies of Muthupet lagoon clearly indicates that


its geometry and sharing of tidal water by adjoining new lagoon are the root causes
for weak currents that are prevailed in the lagoon. Owing to poor tidal exchange of
water lagoon witnessed hypersaline conditions through evaporation during dry
season which has tremendous influence on the productivity of lagoon.

We tried several ways to rejuvenate the lagoon productivity. Firstly, we looked


into the reasons why flushing conditions in the Muthupet lagoon are poor. The
bathymetry of effective navigational channel is more than a metre deep from mouth
till the meeting point of new lagoon, thereafter the effective navigation channel
suddenly became narrow and shallow for few hundred metres before it widened and
deepened towards Muthupet lagoon (Fig.7). This bathymetry has definite
disadvantage of entering more tidal water towards the new lagoon as it obstructs the
free entry towards Muthupet lagoon. However, in view of the new lagoon harbours
vast area of dense mangroves, to protect the ecology the entry of tidal water into new
lagoon can not be arrested or controlled. As an alternative, to improve the ecosystem
of lagoon through extension of hydrodynamic modelling (described in previous
sections), two following scenarios have been generated:

Case 1: The narrow and shallow outer channel immediately after the meeting point
of new lagoon is widened and deepened in line to have a free flow of tidal
exchange of water with Muthupet lagoon (Fig.13).
Case 2: Apart from Case 1, an exclusive new channel having 200 m width, 1 m
depth and 600 m length connecting the Palk Strait and existing navigation
channel of Muthupet lagoon is created (Fig.14).

35

Dredged area

FIG 13. Simulated Bathymetry with dredged channel.

Dredged area

New Channel

FIG 13. Simulated Bathymetry with dredging of existing and new channel.

Hydrodynamic simulations were carried out with the same conditions as


described earlier but with new bathymetries of Case 1 and Case 2 and observed tide
as open boundary condition at both existing and new mouths. The predicted tide for
existing condition as well as for the simulated cases for the lagoon clearly indicate
that the tidal amplitude increased to a maximum from 1.067 m to 1.08 and 1.12 m
respectively for the case studies (Fig. 14). Lagoon volume and water flux also
36

improved to a great extent with the scenarios (Table 10) which will result in significant
improvement of nutrient influx into the lagoon.

FIG 14. Lagoon water level for different case simulations.

Table 10. High Tidal Fluxes into the Muthupet Lagoon for different scenarios.

Existing

Water Level
(m)
1.067

Water Flux
(m3/s)
7.41

Lagoon Volume
(105 m3)
2.31

Case 1

1.081

9.05

3.04

Case 2

1.120

9.11

4.04

Case

Based on the simulation results with the modifications in the geometry of the
lagoon, the following results are expected:

37

1. The lagoon can overcome the prevailing hypersaline conditions due to


improvement in tidal exchange of water which increase the bio-diversity of the
system.
2. Good flushing conditions will improve the transparency of the system.
3. The increased neritic inputs increase nutrient concentrations.
4. The combined influence of improvement in light availability and nutrient
concentrations will promote plankton growth and their productivity resulting in
increased fishery potential.
5. The increased fish catch per unit will increase the socio-economic status of
fishermen.

Thus the above simulations clearly explains that with the implementation of
above alterations to the system the eco-restoraton of Muthupet lagoon is possible.

38

10.0

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION:

Muthupet lagoon and its adjacent Palk Strait can be classified as pristine
environments and are only influenced by natural processes. The developmental
activities around these areas are very scanty, among the commercial activities are
salt pans, aquaculture ponds, agriculture, etc. The upstream waters of lagoon
recorded highest salinity due to aquaculture activities whose impact on the water
quality is confined only to the near vicinity due to lack of sufficient flushing conditions.
Lagoon salinity is controlled largely by seasonal atmospheric temperature thereby
evaporation rates during dry periods and by monsoonal discharges. The lagoon is
totally fresh water dominated during NE monsoon when the drainage basins bring all
terrestrial material, that were accumulated during dry period, due to which nutrient
levels in lagoon raised by several folds. Both lagoon and Palk Strait are highly oxic
and may accommodate additional loads of organic matter for mineralisation.

Terrestrial inputs through runoff, mixing fluxes and internal processes were
dominant forcing mechanisms in maintaining lagoon nutrient concentrations. The
average inorganic N and P concentrations of lagoon during wet season were almost
equal to that of their river concentrations while organic phosphorus was lower by
30% and organic nitrogen was higher by 26%. The application of LOICZ budget
model for the wet season indicate negative residual and mixing fluxes of lagoon
water, directed towards the Palk Strait. The water exchange time of lagoon was
estimated at 1.4 days. However the nutrients, especially DIP, DIN and DON,
exchange time was higher by approximately 50% of water exchange time whereas
the same for DOP was half of water exchange time. The high residence time of
nutrients in the lagoon could not promote the planktonic growth due to masking
action by high suspended sediment. The nonconservative fluxes of nutrients showed

39

that lagoon was a source for DIP, DIN and DON primarily due to their release from
sediment whereas it was a sink for DOP as oceanic concentrations exceeded lagoon
concentrations. The nutrient fluxes from lagoon to Palk Strait are multi-fold high
during wet season which may enhance the productivity of coastal waters.

The productivity of Palk Strait is controlled by wind stress as it induce the


resuspension of bottom sediments masking the light availability for photosynthesis.
Also, wind induced currents dominate tidal currents in both lagoon and Palk Strait
and the extent of dispersal of discharges into the Palk Strait depends on the strength
of these wind currents. It can be concluded that Palk Strait is self sustained and
highly productive. The environment can support additional load of discharges which
can be influenced by commercial activities.

The existing channel for entry of neritic waters is common for both Muthupet
lagoon and adjoining new lagoon. The hydrodynamic model simulations revealed that
the existing bathymetry of navigation channel obstructs the free flow of tidal water
into Muthupet lagoon. However, the system is expected to bring significant changes
by dredging the existing navigation channel inline to maintain uniform channel width
and depth and creating artificial new channel of 200 m wide, 1 m deep and 600 m
length. The simulation results based on these alterations to the geometry of the
system explain improved flushing conditions which certainly have positive influence
towards its eco-restoration.

40

References

Billen, G., Somville, M., De Becker, E. and Servais, P., 1985. A nitrogen budget of
the Scheldt hydrographic basin. Netherlands Journal of Sea Research, 19: 223-230.
Buddemeier, R.W. and Maxwell, B.A., 2000. Typology: Low-budget Remote Sensing.
LOICZ Newletter No.15, LOICZ, Texel, The Netherlands, 1-4.
Pandian, C., 1985, Icthyofauna of Muthupet estuary with special reference to pearl
spot, Etroplus suratensis Bloch., Ph.D. Thesis.
Dupra, V., Smith, S.V., Crossland, J.I.M. and Crosslands, C.J., 2000. Estuarine
systems of the South China Sea region: carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus fluxes.
LOICZ Reports and Studies No.14, LOICZ, Texel, The Netherlands, 156 pp.
GESAM, 1987. Land/sea boundary flux of contaminants: contributions from rivers.
GESAMP Reports and Studies No.32, Unesco, Paris, 49 pp.
Gordon, D.C. Jr., Boudreau, P.R., Mann, K.H., Ong, K.H., Silvert, W.L., Smith, S.V.,
Wattayakorn, G., Wulff, F. and Yanagi, T., 1996. LOICZ Biogeochemical Modelling
Guidelines. LOICZ Reports and Studies No.5, LOICZ, Texel, The Netherlands, 96 pp.
Grasshoff, K., Ehrhardt, M. and Kremling, K. (eds.) 1999. Methods of Seawater
Analysis, Verlag Chimie, Weinheim, 143-187.
Hall, J., Smith, S.V. and Boudreau, P.R. (eds.)., 1996. Report on the international
workshop on continental shelf fluxes of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus. LOICZ
Reports and Studies 9, LOICZ, Texel, The Netherlands, 50 pp.
Kaul, L.W. and Froelich, Jr., P.N., 1984. Modeling estuarine nutrient geochemistry in
a simple system. Geochimica Cosmochimica Acta, 48: 1417-1433.
McKee, L.J., Eyre, B.D. and Hossain, S., 2000. Transport and retention of nitrogen
and phosphorus in the sub-tropical Richmond River estuary, Austriali A budget
approach. Biogeochemistry, 50: 241-278.
Moffat, A.S., 1998. Global nitrogen overload problem grows critical. IscienceI, 179:
988-989.
Pernetta, J.C. and Milliman, J.D., 1995. LOICZ Implementation Plan, IGBP Report
No.33, IGBP, Stockholm, 215 pp.
Rabalais, N.N., Turner, R.E., Justic, D., Dortch, Q., Wiseman, Jr., W.J. and Sen
Gupta, B.K., 1996. Nutrient changes in the Mississippi River and system responses
on the adjacent continental shelf. Estuaries, 19: 386-407.
Ramasamy, S.M., Balaji, S., Venkatsubramanian, V. and Paul, M.A., 1995,
Evidences of neotechtanism along Coromandel coast of Tamilnadu using IRS
imagery. Interface, Bulletin of the National Remote Sensing Agency, pp.5-6.

41

Ramasamy, S.M. and Ravikumar, R., 2002, GIS based visualization of land-ocean
interactive phenomenon along Vedaranniyam coast, Tamilnadu, India, ISG
Newsletter, Vol.9, No.1 & 2, pp.72-77.
Sardessai, S.,1993. Dissolved, particulate and sedimentary humic acids in the
mangroves and estuarine ecosystem of Goa, west coast of India. Indian J. Mar. Sci.,
22: 54-58.
Sarma, V.V.S.S., Dileep Kumar, M. and Manerikar, M. 2001. Emission of carbon
dioxide from a tropical estuarine system, Goa, India. Geophys. Res. Lett., 28: 12391242.
Selvam, V., 1992, Ph.D. Thesis, University of Madras.
Selvam, V., Gnanappazham, L., Navamuniyammal, M., Ravichandran, K.K. and
Karunagarn, V.M. 2002. Atlas of mangrove wetlands of India, Part-I Tamilnadu,
M.S.Swaminathan Research Foundation, India.
Selvam, V., Ravichandran, K.K., Karunagaran, V.M., Mani, Evanjalin, G.J.B., 2003,
Coastal wetlands: Mangrove Conservation and Management, Joint Mangrove
Management in Tamilnadu: Process, Experiences and Prospects, Part I: Simulation
Analysis Pichavaram and Muthupet Mangrove Wetlands, M.S.Swaminathan
Research Foundation, p.71
Smith, S.V., Hollibaugh, J.T., Dollar, S.J. and Vink, S., 1991. Tomales Bay
metabolism: C-N-P stoichiometry and ecosystem heterotrophy at the land-sea
interace. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 33: 223-257.
Smith, S.V. and Crossland, C.J. (eds.), 1999. Australian estuarine system: carbon,
nitrogen and phosphorus fluxes. LOICZ Reports and Studies No.12, LOICZ, Texel,
The Netherlands, 182 pp.
Smith, S.V., Marshall Crossland, J.I. and Crossland, C.J. (eds.), 1999. Mexican and
Central American coastal lagoon systems: carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus fluxes.
LOICZ Reports and Studies No.13, LOICZ, Texel, The Netherlands, 115 pp.
Yanagi, T., 1999. Seasonal variations in nutrient budgets of Hakata Bay. Journal of
Oceanography, 55: 439-448.

42