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ISSN 0097-8078, Water Resources, 2007, Vol. 34, No. 2, pp. 217228. Pleiades Publishing, Ltd., 2007.

Original Russian Text N.M. Shchegolkova, 2007, published in Vodnye Resursy, 2007, Vol. 34, No. 2, pp. 238248.



Urban Effect on the Formation of the Moskva River

Environmental State (Historical Aspect)
N. M. Shchegolkova
Mosvodokanal Moscow State Unitary Enterprise
Pervyi Kuryanovskii proezd 15, Moscow, 109235 Russia
Received February 9, 2006.

AbstractResults of long-term monitoring of water quality parameters of the Moskva River section within the
limits of the city are generalized. The dynamics in quality parameters of the water entering the city wastewater
treatment plants, purified effluents of the treatment plants, and river water is analyzed. A relationship between
the concentration of organic matter in the river water at the exit from the city and WWTP capacity is demonstrated. Periods of unfavorable environmental state of the river in terms of oxygen regime are singled out based
on oxygen regime dynamics. Variations in the river self-purification process are shown. It is stated that purified
effluents of the WWTP are a component of the city hydrological system.
DOI: 10.1134/S0097807807020121

The Moskva River is subjected to considerable
human impact throughout its course, but this effect is
most pronounced in the Moscow city zonethe zone
of a largest megalopolis. The city development is
accompanied by the construction of the municipal sewerage system, whose effluents become a component of
the river.
Water quality in the river can be regulated by
decreasing toxic substance concentrations at point
sources of water pollution, which also include sewerage effluents, as well as by intensifying water self-purification processes in the river [16]. At present, rivers are
contaminated, primarily, by non-point pollution
sources [11, 26, 29]. The development and implementation of up-to-date wastewater treatment technologies
result in the fact that, on urbanized areas, purified water
quality becomes higher than that of the river [19]. In
this connection, the improvement of the state of water
resources in the river necessitates the intensification of
intra-system processes aimed at river water self-purification, which, in turn, requires the assessment of the
main structural and functional characteristics of the
river ecosystem, as well as the processes determining
the river water self-purification. It is also necessary to
take into account the results of hydrological, hydrochemical, hydrobiological, and engineering ecological
There are only few scientific papers devoted to the
analysis of big river systems operation, because such
analysis is labor consuming and necessitates combining
numerous parameters in one analytical center. The
available papers describe in detail water resources of

rivers [1, 4, 6], but the respective analyses are confined

to a single water body or stream. Water treatment plants
are regarded either as the environment or as input flows.
This work is an attempt of analysis where water
treatment plants are regarded as a component of the
hydrological system. Purified water affects the hydrochemical and hyrobiological composition of the river
water, because the latter carries considerable amounts
of dissolved and suspended organic matter, and mineral
compounds and a specific planktonic community,
formed at biological wastewater treatment plants
[5, 22].
The process of the development and implementation
of technologies of treating domestic wastewater proceeds in a similar way in different countries of the
world [17], comprising mechanical wastewater treatment in settlement ponds; mechanical wastewater treatment plus incomplete biological wastewater treatment
at soil filters; full biological treatment at WWTP; and
biological treatment with the removal of biogenic substances and aftertreatment. The structure and equipment of wastewater treatment plants, determining the
technology of wastewater treatment, cannot be updated
frequently. Every stage of the technology development
lasts for years or even decades, depending on the socioeconomic parameters of the city development. The
largest WWTP in Moscow are now at the stage of
switching from full biological treatment to biological
treatment with the removal of biogenic substances and
For more that 100 years, employees of Mosvodokanal (which is now called Mosvodokanal Moscow
State Unitary Enterprise or MGUP Mosvodokanal)




have studied river water and purified effluents of Moscow WWTP, as well as bottom sediments [19] in the
river section more than 100 km long. The accumulated
database enables us to perform historical analysis of
relations between water quality parameters and the
municipal sewerage system operation and identify relations between the river water self-purification, on the
one hand, and technological processes of domestic
wastewater treatment, on the other hand. These problems are the target of this paper.

stream of the Kuryanovo Aeration Station at the exit

from the city.
The parameters analyzed in this study included
COD (permanganate and bichromate oxidizability),
dissolved oxygen concentration in the water, suspended
solids, ammonia nitrogen, chlorides, bacterial populations (as per inoculation on meat-peptone agar), and
biochemical oxygen demand BOD5. Water samples
were analyzed according to standard techniques
adopted within the monitoring program of MGUP


The length of the Moskva River is 496 km, out of
which 61 km (12%) are within the territory of the city
(within the Moscow Ring Road). In the upper part of
the river basin, there are several reservoirs of seasonal
regulation, located both in the main course of the river
and on its tributaries. Since 1937, the river receives
additional water from the Volga through the Moscow
Canal, the Skhodnya and Yauza rivers, as well as purified effluents from WWTP. Presently, the Moskva River
flow is regulated with hydrosystems throughout its
course. There are two multipurpose hydrosystems
within the limits of the city: Karamyshevo and Pererva.
Downstream of the Pererva Hydrosystem, there are five
low-head hydrosystems: Trudkommuna, Andreevka,
Sofino, Faustovo, and Severka. Thus, the Moskva
River (regarded as an acceptor of purified wastewater)
is a regulated stream with human-modified hydrological regime. The natural river water discharge has
increased nearly three times. In the XIXXX centuries,
the river channel within the limits of the city was subjected to various modificationsstraightening, deepening, and expansion. Today, purified effluents of the
WWTP account for 55% of the total river flow downstream of the city. Water treatment plants in Moscow,
including four WWTP (Kuryanovo, Lyubertsy, and
Zelenograd WWTP, and Southern Butovo Wastewater
Treatment Plant) are components of the big sewerage
system of the city. The outlet of the Kuryanovo Aeration Station is located within the territory of the city,
whereas the outlet of the Lyubertsy Aeration Station is
outside the city (Fig. 1).
The database of the ecological industrial monitoring
carried out by MGUP Mosvodokanal is unique,
because the works are carried out on a regular basis, the
sites and procedures of water sampling are consistent,
and observations have been carried out for a long time,
reflecting different anthropogenic loads. Long-term
water quality data were analyzed at two sections:
Rublevo gage (the river at the entry in the city) and
Kolomenskoe gage (upstream of the Kuryanovo Aeration Station outlet) for the water entering the
Kuryanovo Aeration Station and for purified water
outlets of WWTP. Water quality parameters were also
analyzed at the Brateevo gage, which is located down-


Variations in Anthropogenic Load
on the River
The anthropogenic load changed with the development of the city. Such changes can be assessed as the
ratio of the river water discharge at the exit from the
city to the total number of people living in the city. Figure 2 presents the population dynamics according to
census data and the river water discharge divided by the
population number since the XVII century. This parameter is hereinafter referred to as the specific discharge of
the river (SDR). At present, in Moscow, this ratio value
is minimum, as compared to other large cities. During
the citysexistence, the said value has varied from more
than 12 000 l/(pers day) to 600 l/(pers day). Today it
amounts to about 800 l/(pers day), which is only twice
as large as the per capita sewage flow rate. An appreciable decrease in the specific discharge of the river (SDR)
value has been observed since the XVIII century.
Before that, the parameter in question remained, actually, unchanged.
The satisfactory sanitary conditions of the river,
which has been subjected to anthropogenic load ever
since the time of the appearance of first human settlements on its banks, were ensured, mainly, by the processes of the river water self-purification. Numerous
studies demonstrate the very important role of bacteria
and phytoplankton in these processes [3, 13, 27]. Until
the early 1700s, the Moskva River, a shallow river with
a high current velocity, was, in fact, an aerated biological reactor with developed phytoplankton and macrophytes on its banks. In spite of the appreciable amount
of organic matter of human origin, bacterioplankton
(primarily, aerobic heterotrophic organisms) facilitated
the river water self-purification and the biological
diversity. The process of wastewater dilution with pure
river water also played an important role in maintaining
the river water quality.
By the mid-1700s, the self-purification capacity of
the river began to decrease under the growing load of
organic and biogenic substances, which entailed the
disappearance of certain hydrobionts from the river. For
example, one of the latest reference to sturgeon in the

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Fig. 1 Schematic map of the Moskva River, showing the present and past locations of the city wastewater treatment facilities. Wastewater treatment facilities operating at present: Kuryanovo Aeration Station (KWWTP) (since 1951); Lyubertsy Aeration Station
(LAS) (since 1963); Zelenograd Aeration Station (ZAS) (since 1966); Yuzhnoe Butovo Wastewater Treatment Plant (BWTP) (since
1998). Non-operating water treatment facilities: (1) Lyublinio Filtration Fields (18991970); (2) Lyubertsy Filtration Fields (1914
1975); (3) Kozhukhovo Aerofiltration Station (19291970); (4) Fili Aeration Station (19361972); (5) Zakrestovskay Aeration Station (19351966); (6) Shchukino Aeration Station (19511975); (7) Kuntsevo Aeration Station (19611966); (8) Tushino Aeration
Station (19611980); (9) Lyublino Aeration Station (19401996).

Moskva River within the limits of the city dates back to

1740 [20].
The concentration of biologically oxidizable
organic substances in the river water was calculated
according to BODtot, based on anthropogenic load
adopted as 40 g/(l day) in accordance with SNiP
12.04.03-85 with the assumption that 50% and 80% of
wastewater enter the river. Until the end of the
XVIII century, the BODtot did not exceed 2 mg 2/l; in
the mid-XIX century, it could be as high as 3.0 to
5.0 mg 2/l; while at the end of the XIX century, this
value grew to 711 mg 2/l. Owing to the fact that, in
winter, the river was always covered with ice, the concentration of dissolved oxygen in the water was minimum, its deficiency could reach 70 to 80%. In the midXIX century, under the calculated values of organic

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1 2
1650 1700 1750 1800 1850 1900 1950 2000

Fig. 2 (1) Dynamics in the population in Moscow in 1650

2003, thousand people (according to census data); (2) SDR,
l/(pers. day).



matter input, dissolved oxygen concentration could, in

rare periods, be as low as 23 mg 2/l. The mid-XIX
century can be regarded as a turning point in the river
oxygen regime: at that time, dissolved oxygen concentration could fall down to critical values, which inevitably affected the species composition of fish and other
aquatic animals inhabiting the river, which are most
sensitive to dissolved oxygen concentration in the
water. In the mid-XIX, the SDR value, which could be
regarded as critical in the absence of any wastewater
treatment, was about 4000 l/(pers. day). According to
the evidence of contemporaries [23], as early as in the
first half of the XIX century, the Moskva River turned
into a dirty stream with unpleasant scent. Its water quality could be restored to the norm only as a result of dilution during floods. Strange scent testified to the development of sulfate-reduction and fermentation processes, which can only occur in stagnant zones with
anaerobic oxidation of organic matter.
Changes in River Biocenosis with Increasing
Anthropogenic Load
Numerous studies confirm that the qualitative structure and population of hydrobiont communities in a
river change rapidly with an increase in anthropogenic
load on water bodies in terms of organic substances [24,
25, 28]. The authors of these papers recorded changes
in the structure of aquatic communities within several
days and even hours. That is why it is assumed that, in
the Moskva River, variations in the load and hydrological regime entailed changes in the composition of
communities (primarily bacterioplankton and phytoplankton). In the XIX century, a decrease in the river
water transparency, sedimentation of allochthonous
organic substances, and dying of macrophyte accumulations resulted in the formation of ecological
niches for anaerobic bacteria, which are less sensitive
to the deficiency of illumination than phototrophic
organisms [3]. The number of heterotrophic organisms
began to grow, most probably, after the construction in
1836 of a by-pass channel, the dam, and the double-lift
lock, promoting regular steamboat traffic. The first dam
radically changed the environmental conditions in the
middle course of the river, because it deepened the
channel and formed a river section with low current
velocity and intense sedimentation. This section
(located within the limits of the city) became a settlement pond for suspended particles.
Artificial channel deepening affected water selfpurification processes as well. It is shown in [21] that,
today, the critical depth, at which near-bottom zones
with dissolved oxygen concentration less than 1 mg 2/l
can form in the Moskva River, is 78 m. In the middle
course of the river, the water depth did not exceed 4 m
before the construction of dams, whereas their construction caused the appearance of zones with the depth
reaching 10 m, stimulating autoselection of anaerobic

microorganisms that consume organic matter, using

nitrates (denitrification), sulfates (sulfate-reduction)
and organic substances, as electrons acceptors, in addition to oxygen. Thus, photoautotrophic microorganisms prevailed in a properly aerated shallow-water river
without overbalance in organic substances. On the contrary, after the river flow regulation, chemo-organotrophic and chemo-lythotrophic organisms (both aerobic and anaerobic) began to develop. The occurrence
of specific bacterial communities in the river compensated for the river water contamination with organic
In addition to bacterioplankton, benthic organisms,
zooplankton communities and fish played a very important role in the river water self-purification. The structure of fish populations is an integral index of the river
ecosystems state [7]. By the beginning of the XX century, numerous fishes belonging to different species
could be found in the river water within the limits of the
city, which is described by many researchers. There
were numerous individuals of ide, perch, chubb, roach,
ruff, and burbot. In 1886, the river section within the
limits of the city, where bread grain, horse manure from
the streets, and other organic remains found their way,
was characterized by the greatest species diversity and
abundance [20]. The species composition of fish, eating
different food, allows us to conclude that, in the XIX
century, the structure of the river was integral and represented by all the trophic levels. Zooplankton, zoobenthos, and phytoplankton were present in the river.
Fish played an important role in the river water selfpurification within the limits of the city, utilizing suspended organic substances finding their way in the
Hydrochemical Observations in the River
and Variations in Self-Purification Processes
The first regular hydrochemical studies in the middle course of the river near the Moskvoretskii Bridge
date back to 1898 [14]; in the Rublevo section, to 1914
[2, 18]; in the Brateevo section, to 1911 [10]. Early in
the XX century, at the entry in the city (Rublevo), the
concentration of suspended solids in the river water
varied during the year from 1 to 2 mg/l, increasing up
to dozens of milligrams per liter during freshets and
floods. The BOD5 values (averaging 1 mg 2/l)
increased up to 23 mg 2/l in spring. Permanganate
oxidizability (2 to 7 mg 2/l) varied from season to season similarly to BOD. The total concentration of nitrogen salts (ammonium, nitrate, and nitrite) averaged less
than 0.5 mg N/l. In winter and spring, their concentration grew to 0.02 mg N/l for ammonia and to 1 mg N/l
for nitrates, which was related to the inflow of snow and
melt water, carrying manure into the river from agricultural fields and settlement areas, where carting was the
main carriers,. The concentration of Cl ions was about
2 mg/l and that of phosphates, less than 0.04 mg P/l.

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The concentration of Cl and SO 4 ions, as well as

dense residuum decreased more than twice during flood
Within the limits of the city (the Moskvoretskii
Bridge upstream of the Yauza River mouth), the water
quality varied inconsiderably [14]. In the time interval
between floods, the concentration of suspended solids
varied from 0.2 to 1 mg/l and permanganate oxidizability, 1.2 to 9.4 mg 2/l. Seasonal dynamics in these
parameters remained similar to that in the Rublevo section: an increase in the concentration of suspended solids, BOD, oxidizability, ammonium; and a decrease in
the dense residuum, Cl, and SO 4 concentration in
spring. The difference manifested itself in higher average concentration of Cl ions. Within the limits of the
city, the concentration of chlorine ions increased fivefold (on the average, up to 10 mg/l). Spring peak of
ammonium concentration was more pronounced
(reaching 78 mg N/l), remaining at the level of 0.22
to 0.66 mg N/l in other seasons. The growth in ammonium and Cl concentration was explained by a great
number of horses on the city territory, as well as by
domestic wastewater inflow. At the beginning of the
XX century, basic pollutants found their way in the
Moskva River within the limits of the city via the
Moskva River tributaries (Yauza, Neglinka, etc.), as
well as via gravity canals. Comparison between the
water quality at the entry in the city and at the exit from
the city revealed a tenfold increase in the concentration
of chlorine ions and an increase by hundreds of times
in that of ammonium. The concentration of ammonium
in Brateevo was recorded at the level of 1 to 4 mg N/l
throughout the year. In the section mentioned above,
the seasonal dynamics typical of the upper course of
the river was disturbed [10]. In the Rublevo section,
water quality changes were regular, whereas in the
Brateevo section, such changes were of a sporadic
The share of suspended organic substances,
expressed as percent of the total amount of suspended
solids, characterizes their origin. In addition, this
parameter is an indirect index of self-purification processes in the river. Where the ash content of suspended
solid is high, they are represented, mainly, by mineral
particles, and sorption on these mineral particles and
sedimentation are the most significant processes.
Where the ash content of suspended solid is low, they
are represented by bacterioplankton, phytoplankton,
and detritus, and, in addition to sorption, biological
transformation of pollutants by live plankton organisms becomes a significant process. At the beginning
of the XX century, the share of suspended organic matter in the river section within the limits of the city varied 2 to 3 times, increasing up to 3747% in Brateevo,
at the exit from the city. Seasonal dynamics in suspended organic substances also changed. In the

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Rublevo section, the concentration of suspended

organic substances varied from 8 to 13% during the
greater part of the year, sharply increasing (up to 38%)
in May. This means that, during the year, the river carried, mainly, mineral suspension with a low concentration of organic substances, whereas it was only in May
that phytoplankton intensely developed in the river.
The biological self-purification of the river water with
the participation of phytoplankton was most pronounced early in summer.
River flow regulation and an increase in the organic
load in the upper course of the Moskva River affected
the suspended solids composition even at the entry in
the city. In the early XX century, suspended solids
could be characterized as mineral and organic-mineral
(the minimum share of suspended organic substances
was 3%, the average value, 10 to 17% in all the seasons
except spring), whereas in the late XX century, suspended solids were represented, mainly, by organic
substances. The share of suspended organic matter
averaged 41.1 4.43% ( < 0.05).
Based on the seasonal dynamics in suspended
organic matter in the Rublevo section at the beginning
of the century, we can assume that the species composition of phytoplankton has also changed within the
period of one hundred years. At present, seasonal phytoplankton succession is observed in the Moskva River
reservoirs [18]. Diatomic, green, and euglenic algae
prevail in April and May. In June and July, the share of
blue-green algae reaches 90% of the total number of
algae, and blue-green algae remain dominant until the
end of summer, while their biomass exceeds that of
spring phytoplankton several times. Judging by the seasonal dynamics of suspended organic substances, at the
beginning of the century, the river phytoplankton was
represented mainly by diatomic, green, and euglenic
algae. A rapid development of green-algae biomass
started only after the river flow regulation.
Early in the XX century, the absence of pronounced
seasonal dynamics in the share of suspended organic
substances in the Brateevo section and the high values
of this parameter (3747%) testified to the fact that,
within the limits of the city, suspended solids were represented mainly by bacterioplankton, detritus, and phytoplankton.
Thus, as early as the beginning of the XX century,
the river at the entry in the city and within its limits, differed in terms of organic load and basic self-purification processes. Within the limits of the city, the population of bacteria and the amount of detritus in the river
water determined the processes of pollutant sorption
and sedimentation. Even the dilution that occurred in
spring did not have a considerable effect.



Table 1. Main stages in the development of the aquatic environment in the city
Seasonal variations
in the SDR values


l/(pers. day)
Prior to 1740

Share of untreated
domestic wastewater Oxygen regime of the river within
in the total river runoff,
the limits of the city

>12 000


Natural, favorable










Unfavorable in summer








Decrease to zero








Construction of Wastewater Treatment Facilities

in the City and Processes of Water Self-Purification
in the River
At the end of the XIX century, the SDR value was
1300 l/(pers. day). During this period, the first treatment facilities (filtration fields), followed by the first
biological treatment plants (Kozhukhovo, Fili, and
Zakrestovskaya) were constructed. The total capacity
of all the treatment facilities constructed prior to the
1930s did not exceed 250000 m3/day. The city development outstripped the growth of the capacity of wastewater treatment facilities until the mid-XX century. In
the first half of the XX century, the share of untreated
effluents was 20 to 40% of the total river flow. The

Unfavorable in summer

increase in the SDR value was promoted by the construction of the Moscow Canal in the 1930s, which
allowed for a twofold increase in the dilution of effluents. Water supply via the Moscow Canal was growing
during the whole second part of the XX century. In spite
of this fact, till the 1950s, the SDR value did not exceed
600 l/(pers. day). Theses were the lowest values for the
whole citys existence. At that time, BOD5 at the exit
from the city reached 21 mg 2/l, the concentration of
ammonium was 4.7 mg N/l, water saturation with dissolved oxygen fell down to 30% [12].
The most rapid growth of the population number was
observed in 19261941 (about 200000 people per year)
and in 19571959 (about 600000 people per year).






























Fig. 3. Dynamics in the ratio of overland flow, forming the Moskva River runoff at the exit from the city. Discharge of: (1) untreated
domestic wastewater; (2) river water (without domestic wastewater); (3) purified wastewater.

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Comparable growth of population has been observed

for the last 57 years (Table 1). The development of the
municipal sewerage system was planned based on the
data on the population growth in the city [23]. During
the periods of maximum rates of population growth, the
calculated capacity of the urban wastewater treatment
facilities sometimes lagged behind the real incoming
load, whereas during other periods, these plants, on the
contrary, operated with a capacity margin in terms of
water inflow.
The increased volume of canalized effluents
entailed changes in the ratio of the volumes of untreated
wastewater, treated wastewater, and river water. Figure 3
presents the dynamics in this ratio (in m3/s). As concerns untreated domestic wastewater, the Moskva River
was subjected to maximum load in the late 1950s and
in the early 1960s. It was connected with the high rate
of the city growth and the lag between wastewater treatment facilities capacity, on the one hand, and the water
consumption by the city, on the other hand. The sewerage of domestic wastewater was completed in 1978.
After filtration fields were constructed in Moscow,
dilution ceased to be the main process ensuring the
decrease in pollutants concentration in the river. Filtration fields are facilities that intensify natural self-purification processes occurring in the soil. Domestic wastewater entering filtration fields is subjected to biochemical transformation under the effect of bacteria; organic
substances are oxidized; ammonification, nitrification
and denitrification processes occur. Wastewater loses
the greater part of suspended solids here.
One of the main processes that began to form the
river water quality at that time was the biochemical oxidation of organic substances at wastewater treatment
facilities. It was since that time that human impact
began to not only deteriorate environmental conditions,
but also promote self-purification of the aquatic environment. A certain part of organic substances was oxidized by bacteria at wastewater treatment facilities,
whereas the remaining organic matter still found its
way in the Moskva River with untreated wastewater.
The intensity of organic substances oxidation in the
river determined dissolved oxygen concentration,
which, in its turn, affected the structure of the river biocenosis. The Moscow WWTP that have been in operation only in the XX century (Fig. 1) were designed taking into account water treatment in terms of two parameters: suspended solids and BOD. The load on the river
was not supposed to decrease dissolved oxygen concentration below the critical value.
With the improvement in wastewater treatment technologies, the efficiency of wastewater treatment plants
operation grew, the quality of wastewater treatment
process itself also improved. BOD5 values varying
from 20 to 40 mg 2/l were typical of irrigation fields,
whereas for purified effluents of present-date treatment
facilities, designed to carry out full-scale biological

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treatment, BOD5 values do not exceed 10 mg 2/l. In

addition, irrigation fields were characterized by pronounced seasonal dynamics in wastewater treatment
efficiency, because they freeze in winter and thaw in
spring. The seasonal dynamics in the quality of treating
irrigation fields effluents was similar to the seasonal
dynamics of overland flow quality in the early XX century, with peak values of oxidizability and nitrogen
concentration in spring. The municipal WWTP (even
the first ones) did not manifest such regularity. Wastewater was treated evenly all the year round.
Within the limits of the city, BOD5 values in the
Moskva River water varied from less than 1 mg 2/l at
the beginning of the XX century to 1520 mg 2/l in its
middle, and decreased to 24 mg 2/l at the end of the
century. Maximum BOD5 values and minimum dissolved oxygen concentrations were recorded during the
periods when the share of untreated wastewater in the
total volume of effluents was maximum.
Unfavorable oxygen regime was typical of the
Moskva River only within the limits of the city. In the
mid-XX century, at the Rublevo Section, the river was
not subjected to such a heavy load. Here, BOD5 values
increased from 0.51.0 mg 2/l at the beginning of the
century to 23 mg 2/l at the end of the century, which
did not have a negative effect on the river oxygen
regime. The BOD5 values mentioned above persist until
now. At the entry in the city, seasonal dynamics in
organic matter input in the river remained unchanged:
maximum values of organic substances concentration
in the water were observed in spring. Within the limits
of the city, during the whole XX century, the seasonal
dynamics in BOD5 remained less pronounced and,
actually, did not depend on floods.
Undoubtedly, the load of biologically oxidizable
organic matter on the river and the temporal dynamics
of this load affect the processes of bacteriocenoses
autoselection [9, 17]. This means that, for each isolated
time interval, changes in BOD5 load and seasonal
dynamics entailed changes in the structural and functional properties of the river plankton and benthic biocenoses. No studies were carried out to determine the
functional groups of microorganisms in the river. Analysis
shows that the highest concentration of bacteria (inoculations on meat-peptone agar) in the section upstream
of the Kuryanovo Aeration Station were observed in
19511964 (3.74.9 log CFU/ml). This period features
unfavorable oxygen regime, when in summer, within
the limits of the city, dissolved oxygen concentration in
the water was less than 1 mg 2/l. Since the late 1960s,
the population of bacteria has been varying from 3.0 to
4.0 log CFU/ml. At the entry in the city (the Rublevo
section), this value remained almost unchanged ever
since 1914, varying from 2.5 to 3.4 log CFU/ml. At
present, the bacterioplankton population within the
limits of the city upstream of the Kuryanovo Aeration

1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2010

BOD5, mg O2/l

Q, thous. m3/day


Fig. 4. Dependence of the water quality at the city exit on the degree of overland flow canalization. (1) Total discharge of all the
water treatment plants, dealing with domestic wastewater; (2) concentration of biologically oxidizable organic substances (in terms
of BOD5) at the exit from the city.

Station exceeds the population of bacterioplankton in

the upper reaches of the river almost by an order of
magnitude, though this value remains lower that in the
mid-XX century.
The degree of the city canalization affected the river
water quality at the exit from the city (Fig. 4). As the
capacity of wastewater treatment facilities grew, the
BOD decreased. An inverse correlation was observed
between average annual BOD5 values, on the one hand,
and the overall capacity of the city wastewater treatment plants, on the other hand, the correlation coefficient being 0.847. This dependence can be expressed by
the equation y = 0.0012x + 11.929, where x is the total
discharge of domestic wastewater treated at all the
wastewater treatment facilities in the city
(thous. m3/day); and y is BOD5 (mg 2/l).

Dependence of the City Wastewater Treatment System

Operation on the Input Water Quality
The dependence of purified wastewater quality on
the quantity and quality of the wastewater entering
water treatment facilities has been analyzed. Since the
moment of putting treatment plants in operation, the
quality of wastewater treatment has been determined by
the hydraulic load and the quantity of organic and biogenic substances finding their way in the water treatment facility [17]. The sewerage system operation is
largely determined by the physiology of the city,
which was much earlier emphasized by S.N. Stroganov
[15]. It is possible to reveal different stages in the
improvement of wastewater treatment quality, determined by the load from the city (case study of the
Kuryanovo Aeration Station operation, at which one
half of the citys domestic wastewater is now treated
(Table 2)). In 19511972, the hydraulic load HL

Table 2. Characteristics of purified wastewater leaving the Kuryanovo Aeration Station (KWWTP) and those of the river water
downstream of the outlet, depending on the dynamics in the urban load on the river (HL is hydraulic load, RC is rated capacity)
In the wastewater entering


In the purified wastewater

of the KWWTP

annual dynamics on
average BOD5
ratio between the HL the load in values with the conterms of
fidence interval
and RC, %
BOD5, of < 0.05, mg O2/l

In the river

comparison between the real

range of and
critical load
variain terms of
tions in BOD
5 (upBOD5
mg O2/l of

values of
concentration downstream of
the outlet,
mg O2/l

average values
of dissolved oxygen concentration with a confidence interval of
< 0.05, mg O2/l

19511972 HL > RC (by 2040)


13.56 1.29




4.40 0.36

19731982 HL < RC (by 1020)


6.50 0.62




6.98 0.43

19831996 HL > RC (by 510)


4.52 0.38




6.92 0.44

19972003 HL < RC (by 510)


6.72 1.34




6.97 0.44


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exceeded the rated capacity RC of Kuryanovo Aeration Station by 40% [23]. This period was characterized
by the poorest quality of wastewater treatment (BOD5
averaging 13.6 mg 2/l). An extremely broad range of
fluctuations in BOD5 values, characterizing the quality
of effluents of wastewater treatment plants, testifies to
the operation stability of the treatment facilities. The
range of fluctuations in BOD5 load was decreasing
between the first and the second periods. During the
first period, the rated capacity of the treatment plants
was lower than the hydraulic load, and the organic load
was growing at the rate of 12.4 tons/day in terms of
BOD5. During the second period, when the rated capacity did not exceed the hydraulic load any longer, the
water quality treatment against BOD5 improved to
6.5 mg 2/l (Table 2). Further improvement of wastewater treatment quality was observed during the third
period (19831996), when the organic load was
decreasing. During this period, the station operated
under permissible hydraulic overload (up to 10%).
Nowadays, the organic load from the city is increasing
again, the rated wastewater treatment plant capacity
exceeding the real load. For the last several years of
observation, the average BOD5 values for the purified
effluents of the Kuryanovo Aeration Station varied
from 5.7 to 5.9 mg 2/l.
During the periods of revolutions and war [15], the
load on wastewater treatment facilities in terms of biologically oxidizable organic substances, suspended solids, and nitrogen decreased. Similar phenomena were
observed during perestroika. In 19891999, the concentrations of nitrogen, BOD5, and COD in the water
entering the Kuryanovo Aeration Station decreased.
The load in terms of organic matter and nitrogen
decreased by almost 30%. During periods unfavorable
for the city population, decreased organic substances
load improved the quality of purified wastewater and
changed its bacteriocenosis, which affected the processes of water self-purification in the river.
Changes in the quality of wastewater treatment at
the Kuryanovo Aeration Station affected dissolved
oxygen concentration in the effluents of the treatment
plant (Table 2) and the BOD load on the river (Fig. 5).
After the Moscow Canal was put in operation,
S.N. Stroganov [11] estimated the critical load in terms
of BOD5 for the river within the limits of the city at
40 tons/day. His calculations were made based on the
standard for 1942, prescribing the minimum dissolved
oxygen concentration in the water to be no less than
4 mg 2/l. Until the early 1970s, the load upstream and
downstream of the Kuryanovo Aeration Station
exceeded the critical value. Along the whole river
course within the city of Moscow, dissolved oxygen
concentration during all summer seasons was lower
than 4 mg 2/l. The minimum values upstream and
downstream of the outlet were less than 1 mg 2/l.

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Fig. 5 Dynamics in the load on the Moskva River in terms

of BOD5. (1) Upstream of the Kuryanovo Aeration Station;
(2) critical load; (3) total load of the river and the
Kuryanovo Aeration Station.

Since the early 1970s, the values of the load upstream

of the Kuryanovo Aeration Station became equal to the
critical value, and after 1974, it never exceeded
40 tons/day. Ever since 1996, the load values at the exit
from the city have been near-critical or lower than critical, which affected the oxygen regime of the river
within the limits of the city.
In the last decade, the values of dissolved oxygen
concentration fell below 4 mg 2/l very rarely, only
during short periods, when the river water temperature
exceeded 25C for a period of several weeks (July of
2001). During other periods, dissolved oxygen concentration exceeded 4 mg 2/l in summer and >6 mg 2/l
in other seasons of the year. Even during a very hot July
of 2001, dissolved oxygen concentration in the river
section upstream of the Kuryanovo Aeration Station
was as high as 4.7 mg 2/l due to the saturation of purified wastewater with oxygen (in the river section
upstream of the Kuryanovo Aeration Station, the
BOD5 value was 2.8 mg O2/l). This phenomenon
explains the considerable amount and the high species
diversity of fish, found in 20022003 downstream of
the Kuryanovo Aeration Station [7].
The relationship between the quality of purified
wastewater and the physiology of the city can be
described by an empiric dependence deduced earlier
for the dependence of the BOD5 concentration in the
purified wastewater and COD/BOD5ratio in the inflowing wastewater. The lower the value of the said ratio in
the inflowing wastewater, the lower the BOD5value at
the outlet of the wastewater treatment plant [8].
The dependence of BOD5/COD ratio in the purified
wastewater on the value of BOD5/COD ratio in the
water entering the Kuryanovo Aeration Station was
analyzed according to the results of water sampling,
carried out on a monthly basis since 1966 (the determination of COD in water samples started in this year)
(Fig. 6). The index BOD5/COD characterizes the share
of biologically oxidizable organic matter in the total
amount of organic matter in the water. In the inflowing
wastewater, this ratio depends on the share of industrial











y = 0.2513x + 1.6832
R2 = 0.3849






y = 0.2441x + 29.998
R2 = 0.8806




Fig. 6. Dynamics in the BOD5/COD ratio (a) for the period

of 19662003. (1) In the purified wastewater; (2) in the
water entering the Kuryanovo Aeration Station; (b) for the
periods of 19661993 and 20012003; (c) for the period of
19942000; x-axis: BOD5/COD ratio in the inflowing
wastewater; y-axis: BOD5/COD ratio in the treated wastewater.

(hard-to-oxidize) wastewater, the quality of detergents

used by the population, and the structure of the food
consumed by the population. In the purified wastewater, the BOD5 ratio affects the rate of water self-purification in the river. The higher the BOD5/COD ratio, the
higher the share of biologically oxidizable organic matter, and the higher the rate of bacterial self-purification
of the river water. A trend to an increase in the ratio
under consideration (in both types of the investigated
waters) was observed in 19661993 and 20012003. A
direct correlation was found to exist between these
parameters in this period (r = 0.620). The highest values of the said ratio in the inflowing wastewater were
observed in 19921995. Since 1995, the values of
BOD5/COD ratio in the inflowing wastewater was rapidly decreasing, and an inverse correlation was
observed (r = 0.938). This period can be characterized
as the time of changes in the social and domestic characteristics of the city. Change took place in the detergents, household chemical goods, the structure of foodstuff and many other factors, affecting the quality of
inflowing wastewater (an increase in both BOD and
COD values). However, the growth of COD outstripped

that of BOD, which could increase the toxicity of the

inflowing wastewater. Rapid changes in the inflowing
wastewater quality affected the composition of active
sludge biocenosis and water treatment processes at the
wastewater treatment plants. The analysis shows that
correlation dependencies between the parameters of
inflowing and purified wastewater can characterize the
stability of the urban anthropogenic load. For the
BOD5/COD ratio, the correlation was direct during the
periods of the stable development of the city, but when
the inflowing wastewater quality was abruptly changing such correlation was inverse.
The affect of the physiology of the city also manifests itself in changes in the inflowing wastewater temperature: the higher the wastewater temperature, the
higher the efficiency of biological water treatment.
Prior to the early 1960s, the water temperature varied
from 6 to 27. Until the late 1980s, the inflowing
wastewater temperature in winter was as low as 15C,
whereas for the last 20 years, the inflowing wastewater
temperature has never been lower than 18C in winter
and 27C in summer. The increase in the domestic
wastewater temperature, related to the improved heat
supply to the city, stimulated the processes of biological
wastewater treatment. Owing to the fact that the purified wastewater, entering the river from the treatment
plants, was always warmer than the river water and that
purified wastewater contained plankton rich in
saprophytic bacteria, zones of intense oxidation of
organic substances formed in the outlet areas of wastewater treatment facilities. These zones did not freeze in
winter, which intensified the aeration. The said areas
expanded with the growth in the effluent temperature
and volume. At present, the Moskva River from the
Kuryanovo Aeration Station outlet down to the river
mouth does not freeze at all.
Several stages, connected with human-induced
changes, should be singled out in the development of
the city aquatic environment since the XVIII century
(Table 2). These stages differ in terms of oxygen
regime, which is determined by the share of untreated
wastewater and the rate of changes in the SDR value.
Different populations and compositions of bacterioplankton and phytoplankton, as well as different quality of suspended solids were typical of each stage. All
this, undoubtedly, affected the general structure of the
river biocenosis and river water self-purification.
The development of the municipal sewerage system
played an extremely important role in the development
of aquatic environment in Moscow. The water quality at
the exit from the city depended on the sewerage system
capacity. The river water quality improved with an
increase in the wastewater treatment plants capacity
and a decrease in the share of untreated wastewater.
Dissolved oxygen concentration is one of the most
important parameters of the formation of the structure
and functioning of the river biocenosis.

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The problem of ensuring favorable environmental
conditions in a river flowing through a big city should
be solved by studying the ecological processes within
the system comprising the river and biological wastewater treatment facilities. In the XX century, inverse
correlation was observed between the concentration of
biologically oxidizable organic substances in the
Moskva River at the exit from the city and the capacity
of wastewater treatment facilities. Within the period of
37 years, a direct correlation existed between the
BOD5/COD ratio in the water entering the biological
water treatment facilities and in the purified wastewater. During the periods of rapid changes in the quality
of inflowing wastewater (19942000), an inverse correlation was observed between the said parameters.
River flow regulation entailed the occurrence of
self-purification processes that previously were not typical of natural streams. Downstream of the outlets of
biological wastewater treatment facilities, a peculiar
zone with higher water temperature and specific plankton organisms was found to form. This zone does not
freeze in winter, which determines its peculiar oxygen
For a river with medium water abundance, receiving
effluents from a megalopolis, the SDR values and the
ratio between the volume of untreated wastewater,
treated wastewater, and the river water can be regarded
as the integral load on the river.
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