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Journal of Applied and Environmental Sciences Vol. , No. . pp.

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Impacts of rock quarrying on Akwukwuo tributary of the Ivo River in

Ishiagu Ebonyi State, Nigeria

Chima, G.N., 2Nwaugo , V.O. and 1Ezekwe, I.C.
Department of Geography and Planning, Abia State University, Uturu, Code ? Nigeria. 2Department of
Environmental Resources Management, Abia State University, Uturu, Code? Nigeria

Received 21 August, 2009; Revised 28 April, 2010; Accepted 2 July, 2010


Ivo River is the major source of water supply for the people around Ishiagu in Ebonyi State Nigeria; and its
Akwukwuo stream tributary is used as a channel for mine dewatering effluents. The quality of the stream water was
assessed with the view of determining the effect of industrial effluents on the water quality of the stream. The
water samples were analyzed for physico-chemical parameters and heavy metals. This study discovered that over
34,000 litres of untreated effluents containing to about 2.14 x 108mg/day of dissolved substances and about
121.4mg of heavy metals are discharged into the environment daily. Groundwater abstractions and stream
impoundment have affected the discharge of the stream. The discharge of mine effluents into the stream increased
conductivity above standards for drinking water and guidelines for industrial effluents discharge into rivers.TDS
also increased downstream making the water unsuitable for irrigation purposes. Strict enforcement of environmental
guidelines for the management of effluents in Nigeria and setting up a task force to look into the state of the
environment in mining communities and monitor waste management operations of mining companies is

Keywords: Ivo River, rock quarrying, mining effluents, Water quality, Pollution, Nigeria

INTRODUCTION may traverse long distances in days before a

significant degree of purification is achieved (1,2,3).
Fresh water resources are coming under intense Pollution of water bodies is a global issue that has
stress in developing countries because of rapid no respect for national or international boundaries.
growth in population and industrialization. Water The degrees of pollution and natural purification
quality degradation is caused by urbanization, are measurable physically, biologically and
industrialization, deforestation, mining, agriculture chemically. The protection of the aquatic life of
and energy use and abuse, especially the use of any potential receiving water body therefore calls
water bodies as sinks. Industrial and mining wastes for constant assessments of the hydraulic and
are discharged into water bodies with little or no water quality conditions of receiving water bodies
regard to the assimilative capacities of the water (4).
bodies. It is erroneously believed that these bodies In advanced countries, environmental monitoring
of water could serve as a limitless dumping ground agencies are more effective and environmental
for wastes. laws are strictly followed. General environmental
The natural purification of polluted waters in quality monitoring is compulsory and the monitoring
itself is never fast, while heavily polluted water of the quality of water resources is done on a
regular basis (5-11). As a result, any abnormal
Corresponding author changes in the environmental or water quality
: + 234 803 492 1065
condition can easily be detected and appropriate

Vol. Rock quarrying and Ivo River water quality in Ishiagu, Ebonyi, Nigeria.

action taken before the outbreak of epidemics. The kezie (21), and Chima and Okpe (22) those mostly
case is quite the opposite in many developing at risk even with short term exposure are children
countries where environmental laws are not in and pregnant women.
place and where there are any, are rarely observed This study therefore aims at assessing the impact
(12). of mining on a stream into which effluent from
Mining activities started in the Ishiagu area of one of the mining companies operating in the study
South Eastern Nigeria before 1950. To date, more area is discharged. Continued discharge of
than one hundred surface (open cast) mines are untreated effluents into the Ivo River system is a
either in active use or have been abandoned. major threat to the delicate ecological balance of
Activities relating to the over fifty years of large- the area and quality of the river which is the main
scale mining operations in the area including lead- source of water supply to the inhabitants of the
zinc, barium mining and stone quarrying, are study area, and this calls for further investigations.
suspected to have contaminated the regional
aquifer and perennial stream flow in the area, thus MATERIAL AND METHODS
endangering the lives of man and other organisms.
Contamination sources include rock blasting, mine Study area
tailings, heap leach areas, spoil banks, and the The study area falls within latitude 5512' N and
deliberate discharge of mine dewatering effluent 5592' N and longitude 7242' N and 7402' E. The
into streams and wetlands. Akwukwuo stream is a small stream with a breadth
The sources of water supply in the area are from of about 5 meters and a length of about 2 kilometers
surface and ground water as well as from rain from its abutment as a contact spring around
water harvesting. Surface water is tapped through Amonye Ishiagu. The Akwukwuo stream flows
direct abstraction from the Ivo and Aku streams, South-eastwards and eastwards into the Ivo river
and some contact springs. There are shallow hand system at Okue Ishiagu. The Akwukwuo stream
dug wells and hand operated boreholes that tap flows right through the premises of one of the major
the ground water. All these water sources are aggregate quarrying companies. It was a perennial
inadequate for the people who live in the study stream until the advent of mining in the study site.
area and are of doubtful potability (13, 14, 15). The study area experiences a tropical climate
Most of them are seasonal and dry up during the with rainfall all year round. The rainy season lasts
dry season between November and March each from April to October. The mean annual rainfall
year. This already bad water supply situation is for the area ranges from 1750-2000mm while that
exacerbated by pollution from mining activities. of temperature ranges from 26.527.5C (23).
Apart from reducing the potability of water Other annual mean climatic figures include: 80kg-
supply sources, rock blasting and the discharge of cal/cm2 of solar radiation; up to 1750 hours of
untreated effluents containing varying amounts of sunshine; 70% for relative humidity and 1450mm
heavy metals into streams, wetlands, and soils, has for evapo-transpiration (23).
adverse effect on the environment (16,17,18).
Heavy metals from the rock mining process Sampling Collection
accumulate and persist in the environment; and Sampling was done in September 2007. Water
may build up in the tissues of plants and animals samples were collected twice daily between 5th
that depend on them in the food chain (19). and 8th September 2007. Two samples of water
Exposure to increased levels of heavy metal were taken at each sampling point. Samples were
pollution, especially over extended period of time collected with pre-rinsed 1 litre plastic containers
can have adverse effects on man. These could for the analysis of physico-chemical parameters.
lead to severe damage to the vital organs including, Samples for heavy metal analysis were collected
brain, kidney, the nervous system and even red with nitric acid pre-rinsed 1-litre containers and
blood cells. According to Opuene (20) and Obie- treated with 2ml nitric acid (assaying 100%, trace

Chima et al. Journal of Applied and Environmental Sciences

metal grade, fisher scientific) prior to storage. This About 2 litres of effluents is pumped from the
was done to stabilize the oxidization states of the mines every 5 seconds amounting to about 34,560
metals. The samples were placed in coolers before litres of effluents per operations day. This means
transferring them to the laboratories. that about over 34,000 litres of untreated effluents
amounting to about 2.14 x 108mg/day (214.1kg/day)
Physico-chemical analysis of dissolved substances (Table 1: 34,560L x
Physico-chemical parameters of samples were 6,195mg/l average daily TDS for rainy and dry
determined using standard methods (24,25,26). seasons) which includes about 121.4mg (0.1214kg)
Measurement for pH, temperature, conductivity, (Table 1- average daily heavy metal loading for
turbidity, and salinity were done in situ, using Horiba dry and rainy season) heavy metals are discharged
water checker (model U-10) after calibrating the into the environment daily.
instrument with the standard Horiba solution. Total
Table 1. Levels of physico-chemical parameters in sampling points
dissolved solids (TDS) was measured with a
Characteristics Sampling
Lovibond cm-21 Tintometer. Total alkalinity, Point of
Upstream Downstream
hardness, calcium, and chloride was determined impact
by titration method while phosphate was pH 6.73 7.63 7.27
Temp. (oC) 27.1 30.0 21.4
determined using the stannous chloride method. Conductivity (S/cm) 226.0 2960 1240
Nitrate measurement was by the brucine method. Turbidity (NTU) 9.0 89 157
Salinity (%) 0 1.4 0.5
Sulphate determination was by the turbidimetric TDS (mg/l) 160.0 3150 870
method, while magnesium concentration was Eh (mg/l) 21.0 -51 -24
Alk (mg/l) 172.0 175 58
determined by the calculation method (26). Heavy Cl-1(mg/l) 8.9 8.9 4.4
metals were determined using Perkin-Elmer and N- NO3 (mg/l) 0.29 0.04 0.52
SO4-2(mg/l) 1.0 27.1 22.1
Analyst 100 Atomic Absorption Spectrophoto- PO4-3(mg/l) 0.33 0.37 0.04
meter (AAS). Ca+2 (mg/l) 26.2 134.7 15.4
Mg+2 (mg/l) 1.9 58.3 54.8
Field sampling was also supplemented by the Fe(mg/l) 3.73 3.98 5.42
interview method. On the spot interview method Mn (mg/l) 0.51 0.21 0.47
Zn (mg/l) 0 0 0
was used to obtain information on the effects of Pb (mg/l) 5E-04 0 5E-04
mining on river flow regime in relation to Cd (mg/l) 0 0.05 0
Hard (mg/l) 73.0 576.0 264.0
impoundments and groundwater dewatering
effects of mining. The enormous abstraction of groundwater from
mining operations has not only negatively affected
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION water wells (lowering groundwater head by about
0.64m) around the neighbourhood of the mines but
The stream in Okue Ishiagu is one of the many has also affected the discharge of the stream. The
streams in the Ivo River Basin. It has been neighbourhood now depend on the company for
narrowed by filling to create more space for mining the supply of domestic water as most of the wells
by the company. The flow of this stream has been are no longer very productive (15).
reduced to almost a rainy season event due to It is not likely that the discharged effluent is
dewatering and mine water supply abstraction affecting the upstream section of the stream
effects and surface water impoundment. because of the distance of about 300 metres of the
Impoundment was carried out to create more upstream sampling position from the point of impact
space for company operations and to enhance run (POI); higher gradient and stream flow in the
off of discharged effluents. The impact of this direction of discharge. The temperature of the
being a damming effect on the stream. Land effluent was 30 oC as compared to 27.1oC for
previously used in the cultivation of swamp rice is downstream and 21.4oC for upstream. The effluent
now swallowed up creating a permanent lake therefore raised the temperature of the stream
which plays host to mosquitoes and other pests. temperature by about 6oC and reduced dissolved

Vol. Rock quarrying and Ivo River water quality in Ishiagu, Ebonyi, Nigeria.

oxygen by about 9.0mg/l to 8.1mg/l (27). Water irrigation water is 500mg/l (28) thus making the
temperature directly affects the solubility of oxygen stream water unsuitable for irrigation purposes
and the presence of geochemical species. The (32). Excess dissolved solids in water causes the
solubility of oxygen is temperature dependent, being mineral tastes in drinking water, corrosion of
more soluble in cold water than in warm water. piping and elimination of desirable food plants and
Water temperature also affects metabolic activity habitat forming plant species and limits use of water
of bacteria (28). for irrigation and livestock production (27). Turbidity
The temperature of the effluent also exceeds and salinity increased from 9 NTU and 0%
the USEPA, WAH (warm water aquatic habitat) upstream to 89 NTU and 1.4% downstream
standards, which is maximum <25oC (27). In the respectively. Turbidity is the degree of clearness
case of pH there was a reduction in activity as the of water or the degree of light penetration of water.
neutral mine effluent raised pH from 6.73 upstream This is a direct effect of the amount of suspended
to 7.27 downstream. This pH falls within the solids in the water column. The amount of light
tolerable limit for most fish. that passes through a water body directly affects
The most significant environmental impacts of photoreaction in that water body and therefore
pH in surface water systems is its effect on the affects photosynthesis and subsequently the
solubility and thus the bioavailability of other ions. productivity of that water body. Salinity also
Industrial effluents contain Fe, Pb, Cr, and Zn, Cd directly affects bioactivity in water bodies as an
or other toxic elements and pH affects the toxicity increase in saline conditions will ultimately eliminate
and speciation of these substances. A drop in pH biota that are conditioned to exist in fresh water
causes insoluble substances to become more environments as in the study area.
soluble and thus available for absorption. For Redox potential which is an indication of electron
example 4mg/l of Fe would not present a toxic activity and the existence of a contaminant plum
effect at a pH of 4.8, but as little as 0.9mg/l of Fe decreased from 21mv upstream to -24mv
at a pH of 5.5 can cause the death of most fishes downstream. Redox potential at POI is -51mV.
(27). Furthermore, the complex combination of The redox potential being essentially a measure of
toxic substances that are simultaneously present the state of electron activity between potentially
in effluents may act synergistically and therefore interacting ions, is an electrical potential which
impose a higher toxicity burden on the ecosystem affects the availability of oxygen. Well-oxygenated
than may be predicted in laboratory studies (29). waters with most cations in their most highly
Conductivity measures the ability of an aqueous charged forms (for instance when iron is present
solution to carry an electrical current. This is as Fe3+ rather than Fe2+) display high values of Eh
directly related to the amount of dissolved solids in (>100mV) while, waters with low or no dissolved
solution. The introduction of mine effluents with oxygen whose cations are in their least- charged
conductivity of 2,960us/cm at POI into the stream forms tends to display very low Eh (<100mV) or
increased conductivity from 226us/cm upstream even negative values (33). Decrease in Eh
to 1,240us/cm downstream far above the WHO therefore will create anaerobic conditions which
(1993) and EU (1998) standards for drinking water will truncate aerobic (biochemical activity) and lead
as cited in Lenntech, (30). The effluents also to the suffocation of aquatic organisms.
exceeds FEPA (31) recommended guidelines for Hardness also increased from 73 upstream to
discharge of industrial effluents into rivers. 264 mg/l downstream making the stream hard
TDS, Turbidity and Salinity also increased from water (32). Hardness at POI is 576mg/l. Hardness
upstream to downstream. TDS increased from however reduces the toxicity and concentration
160mg/l upstream to 870mg/l downstream. The of metals. In hard waters some of the metal ions
TDS of the effluent at (POI) is in the range of form insoluble precipitates and drop out of solution
3,150 mg/l making it brackish water (32). The (27). This may explain the reduction in the
RUL(Recommmended Upper Limit) for TDS in concentration of Cl-, PO4-3, Ca+2 and Mn ranged

Chima et al. Journal of Applied and Environmental Sciences

from 8.9, 0.33, 26.2, 0.5 (mg/l) upstream to 4.4, of Pollution Status of River Illo, Ota, Nigeria.
0.04, 15.4, 0.47 (mg/l) downstream. The Environmentalist. 28:4-12.
However Chloride and Calcium fall within 5. Neal, C., and Robson, A.J. (2000). A Summary
acceptable drinking water standard, while of River Water Quality Data Collected Within
phosphate and manganese surpass them. There the Land-Ocean Interaction Study: Core Data
was also a marked increase in the concentration for Eastern UK Rivers Draining to the North
of nitrate, sulphate and magnesium, while Lead, Sea. Science of the Total Environment. 251/
Zinc and Cadmium were below detectable limits. 252, 585-665.
6. United States Environmental Protection Agency
(USEPA) (2000). 2000 National Water
Quality Inventory.
This study showed that the untreated mining
7. Robson, A. J., and Neal, C. (1997). A Summary
effluents discharged into the Akwukwuo arm of
of Regional Water Quality for Eastern UK
the Ivo River resulted in serious water quality
Rivers. Science of the Total Environment
problems in the study area. These problems have
194 &195, 15-39.
manifested in water hardness, high TDS and
8. United States Environmental Protection Agency
conductivity, low redox and exposure to heavy
(USEPA) (1996). Environmental Indicators
metals. TDS increased downstream from mining
of Water Quality in the United States. EPA
areas making the water unsuitable for irrigation
841- R-96-002.
purposes. Chloride and Calcium fall within
9. United States Environmental Protection Agency
acceptable drinking water standards, while
(USEPA) (1995). National Water Quality
phosphate and Manganese surpass these
Inventory 1994 Report to Congress. EPA
Enactment of new laws to guide mining 841- R-95-005, Washington DC.
10. United States Geological Survey (USGS)
operations is hereby recommended while a strict
(1995). Water Use in the United States. U.S.
enforcement of environmental guidelines for the
Geological Survey.
management of effluents in Nigeria must be
adopted. The Ebonyi State Government should set
up a panel or task force to look into the state of 11. United States Environmental Protection
Agency (USEPA) (1991). 1991 Toxic
the environment in mining communities and monitor
Release Inventories Public Data Release.
waste management operations of mining
EPA-745-R-93-003 Washington
12. Fakayode, S.O. (2005). Impact assessment
of industrial effluent on water quality of the
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