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Ecological Indicators 7 (2007) 315–328

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Use of the water quality index and dissolved oxygen

deficit as simple indicators of watersheds pollution
Enrique Sánchez a, Manuel F. Colmenarejo a, Juan Vicente b, Angel Rubio b,
Marı́a G. Garcı́a a, Lissette Travieso c, Rafael Borja c,*
Centro de Ciencias Medioambientales (CSIC), C/Serrano, 115-Duplicado, 28006 Madrid, Spain
Ayuntamiento of Las Rozas, Madrid, Spain
Instituto de la Grasa (CSIC), Avda Padre Garcı́a Tejero 4, E-41012 Sevilla, Spain
Received 21 November 2005; received in revised form 16 February 2006; accepted 21 February 2006


The use of the water quality index (WQI) and the dissolved oxygen deficit (D) as simple indicators of the watersheds
pollution was investigated and compared in the Municipality of Las Rozas (north-west of Madrid, Spain). The quality of the
water in Guadarrama and Manzanares rivers and Paris Park ponds, the main watersheds of this area was investigated during 2
years (from September 2001 to September 2003). It was found that the WQI was very useful for the classification of the waters
monitored. The WQI was 70, which corresponds to ‘‘good’’ quality water at the sampling point 1 (entrance of Las Rozas) and
decreased to around 64 (medium quality) at the sampling point 6 (outlet of Las Rozas) in the case of Guadarrama River. The
WQI was around 65 in the influents of Manzanares River. Finally, in Paris Park the WQI ranged from around 72–55, which
corresponded to a classification from ‘‘good’’ to ‘‘medium’’ quality, respectively. A high linear relationship between the WQI
and the dissolved oxygen deficit (D) was found. Therefore, a fast determination of WQI may be carried out knowing the values of
D, which are easily obtainable by field measurements. It was found an influence of the climate conditions on the values of WQI
and D.
# 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Water quality index (WQI); Dissolved oxygen deficit (D); Watersheds pollution

1. Introduction use and control of water resources, which may endanger

the sustainable development of these resources. The
Different regions of the world are faced with diffe- quality of surface waters is a very sensitive issue.
rent types of problems associated with the occurrence, Anthropogenic influences as well as natural processes
degrade surface waters and impair their use for
drinking, industry, agriculture, recreation and other
* Corresponding author. Tel.: +34 95 4689654;
fax: +34 95 4691262. purposes (Carpenter et al., 1998; Jarvie et al., 1998;
E-mail address: (R. Borja). Simeonov et al., 2003). Due to the spatial and temporal

1470-160X/$ – see front matter # 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
316 E. Sánchez et al. / Ecological Indicators 7 (2007) 315–328

variations in water chemistry, a monitoring programme to estimate metabolism rates (photosynthesis and
and a representative and reliable estimation of the respiration) in streams. This method was applied to
quality of surface waters are necessary (Bollinger et al., DO concentrations that were measured in two creeks
1999). The water quality index (WQI) has been located in urbanized and agricultural watersheds,
considered to give a criteria for surface water respectively (Wang et al., 2003). An oxygen equiva-
classification based on the use of standard parameters lent model for water quality dynamics was applied
for water characterization (Couillard and Lefebvre, in a macrophyte dominated river (Park et al., 2003).
1985; House and Newsome, 1989; Smith, 1989; The model simulated seven coupled state variables:
Melloul and Collin, 1998; Nives, 1999; Pesce and BOD5, DO, organic nitrogen, ammonia nitrogen,
Wunderlin, 2000; Swamee and Tyagi, 2000; Bordalo nitrite/nitrate nitrogen, total organic phosphorus and
et al., 2001; Cude, 2001; Nagel, 2001; Jonnalagadda dissolved inorganic phosphorus.
and Mhere, 2001; Liou et al., 2003; Hernández-Romero The subject of the present work was the use of
et al., 2004). This index is a mathematical instrument the water quality index (WQI) and the dissolved
used to transform large quantities of water character- oxygen deficit (D) as indicators of the environmental
ization data into a single number, which represents the quality of watersheds. As a particular case the main
water quality level. The use of WQI is a simple surface watersheds located in Las Rozas, Madrid
practice, which allows adequate classification of (Spain) were monitored for a period of 2 years
water quality. The determination of WQI requires a (September 2001 to September 2003). For the deter-
normalization step where each parameter is trans- mination of the WQI, European Standards (EU,
formed into a 0–100 scale, where 100 represents the 1975) for clean water were used as reference in each
maximum quality. The next step is to apply a case. Finally, the study of the influence of the climate
weighting factor in accordance with the importance condition on the water quality was other objective
of the parameter as an indicator of water quality of the present paper.
(Nives, 1999; Pesce and Wunderlin, 2000; Jonnala-
gadda and Mhere, 2001).
Dissolved oxygen (DO) and dissolved oxygen 2. Materials and methods
deficit (D) are parameters frequently used to evaluate
the water quality on different reservoirs and water- 2.1. Description of the watersheds investigated
sheds. These parameters are strongly influenced by a
combination of physical, chemical, and biological Las Rozas, Madrid (Spain) is a town located in
characteristics of streams of oxygen demanding the north-west of Madrid with a total surface area
substances, including algal biomass, dissolved organic of around 59 km2, the urban area corresponds to 44%
matter, ammonia, volatile suspended solids, and of the total area. The total population is 56,000, 77%
sediment oxygen demand (Spanou and Chen, 1999; of which lives in the urban area. The main watersheds
Cox, 2003; Mullholand et al., 2005; Quinn et al., are distributed in the rivers of Guadarrama and
2005). Williams et al. (2000) studied the water quality Manzanares and their influents and in the ponds
variation in three rivers of United Kingdom. The of Paris Park. These resources are also of great
authors established an empirical equation between the importance for the city of Madrid.
oxygen deficit variation, the average photosynthesis Fig. 1 shows the three watersheds monitored:
rate and the average respiration rate. The use of Guadarrama River, located on the west border and
dissolved oxygen content as an index of water quality made up of the Guadarrama River and the influent
was also used to estimate the effect of industrial and creeks (La Torre, La Virgen and Fuentecillas),
municipal effluents on the waters of San Vicente Bay, Manzanares River on the east border and made up
Chile (Rudolf et al., 2002). The results suggested that of the La Trofa and Barrancohondo creeks and the
the oxygen depletion was a representative parameter Paris Park located in the south, a recreational area with
for establishing a relative scale of water quality in two connected lakes called Superior and Inferior. The
these waters. A method based on the maximum and water is recycled from the Inferior Lake to the
minimum dissolved oxygen (DO) deficits was derived Superior Lake by pumping.
E. Sánchez et al. / Ecological Indicators 7 (2007) 315–328 317

Fig. 1. Map of the area monitored at scale 1:100,000 (MWWTP: location of municipal wastewater treatment plants).
318 E. Sánchez et al. / Ecological Indicators 7 (2007) 315–328

2.2. Procedure for watershed sampling covering all seasons. The samples were taken every
2 weeks and after the determination of field para-
Sampling of the watersheds was carried during meters they were transported to the laboratory. A
2 years (from September 2001 to September 2003), detailed description of the sampling points is

Table 1
Description and location of the sampling points monitored
Watershed Sampling point
1 2 3 4 5 6
Guadarrama River
Name of the Guadarrama I Guadarrama II Guadarrama III Retamar Guadarrama IV Guadarrama V
sample point
Distance (km) 0 1.75 2.43 3.36 4.45 6.00
La Torre creek
Sampling point 1 2 3 4
Name of the La Torre I La Torre II La Torre III La Tore IV
sample point
Distance (km) 0 1.9 2.54 4.61
Motilona creek
Sampling point 1 2 3 4
Name of the Motilona I Motilona II Motilona III Motilona IV
sample point
Distance (km) 0 0.15 1.35 2.0
La Virgen creek
Sampling point 1 2 3
Name of the La Virgen I Bridge Channel
sample point
Distance (km) 0 0.96 1.68
Fuentecillas creek
Sampling point 1 2 3
Name of the Chopera channel Fuentecillas II Fuentecillas III
sample point
Distance (km) 0 0.67 2.71

La Trofa creek
Sampling point 1
Name of the La Trofa
sample point
Distance (km) 1.50
Barrancohondo creek
Sampling point 1
Name of the Barrancohondo
sample point
Distance (km) 0.70

Paris Park
Paris Park
Sampling point 1 2 3 4
Name of the Wharf Lake superior Estuary Lake inferior
sample point
E. Sánchez et al. / Ecological Indicators 7 (2007) 315–328 319

Table 2
Temperatures and rainfalls during the period evaluated (September 2001–September 2003)
Season Temperature variationa (8C) Rainfalla (mm)
TMin TMedium TMax Monthly Total
Autumn 4.5  1.1 9.6  4.2 14.4  4.9 65.7  8.5 197.0  25.5
Winter 1.8  0.5 5.1  3.2 9.6  3.9 66.3  9.4 199.0  28.2
Spring 7.2  3.5 13.4  3.3 19.8  5.2 56.0  7.3 168.0  21.9
Summer 14.8  4.3 22.8  2.8 28.4  5.2 15.0  6.3 45.0  18.9
Mean values  S.E. of 56 samples.

summarized in Table 1. Sample point 1 of Guadarrama Laboratory analyses were carried out for the
River corresponded to the inlet to ‘‘Las Rozas’’ determination of total suspended solids (TSS),
municipality. ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, total phosphorus, chemical
oxygen demand (COD) and biochemical oxygen
2.3. Climate conditions demand (BOD5). These analyses were also performed
using the methodology recommended by the Standard
The sampling started at the beginning of September Methods (1999). The oxygen deficit (D) was
2001 and finished at the end of the September 2003. determined from the difference between the dissolved
Table 2 shows the average values of temperature and oxygen concentrations measured with the portable
rainfall for each season during this period. dissolved oxygen meter in the corresponding sampling
point (C) and the saturation concentration of pure
2.4. Field determinations and laboratory analyses water at a similar temperature and pressure (CS). All
these determinations were carried out in triplicate
Field determinations of pH, conductivity (K), samples, and the results expressed as averages.
temperature (T 8C) and dissolved oxygen (DO) were For the determination of the water quality index of
carried out using portable equipments according to the different watersheds studied, the following empiri-
the Standard Methods for the Examination of Water cal equation was used (Pesce and Wunderlin, 2000):
and Wastewaters (APHA, 1999). The conductivity, pH P
Ci Pi
and DO were measured using ‘‘Hanna’’, ‘‘Crison’’ and WQI ¼ k Pi (1)
‘‘Inolab WTW’’ portable equipments, respectively. i Pi

Table 3
Values of Cia and Pi for different parameters of water quality
Parameter Pi Ci
100 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0
Range of analytical value
pH 1 7 7–8 7–8.5 7–9 6.5–7 6–9.5 5–10 4–11 3–12 2–13 1–14
Kb 2 <0.75 <1.00 <1.25 <1.50 <2.00 <2.50 <3.00 <5.00 <8.00 <12.00 >12.00
TSS 4 <20 <40 <60 <80 <100 <120 <160 <240 <320 <400 >400
Amm. 3 <0.01 <0.05 <0.10 <0.20 <0.30 <0.40 <0.50 <0.75 <1.00 <1.25 >1.25
NO2 2 <0.005 <0.01 <0.03 <0.05 <0.10 <0.15 <0.20 <0.25 <0.50 <1.00 >1.00
NO3 2 <0.5 <2.0 <4.0 <6.0 <8.0 <10.0 <15.0 <20.0 <50.0 <100.0 >100.0
PT 1 <0.2 <1.6 <3.2 <6.4 <9.6 <16.0 <32.0 <64.0 <96.0 <160.0 >160.0
COD 3 <5 <10 <20 <30 <40 <50 <60 <80 <100 <150 >150
BOD5 3 <0.5 <2.0 <3 <4 <5 <6 <8 <10 <12 <15 >15
DO 4 7.5 >7.0 >6.5 >6.0 >5.0 >4.0 >3.5 >3.0 >2.0 >1.0 <1.0
T 1 21/16 22/15 24/14 26/12 28/10 30/5 32/0 36/–2 40/4 45/6 >45/<6
All values, except pH, in mg/l.
Conductivity in mS/cm.
320 E. Sánchez et al. / Ecological Indicators 7 (2007) 315–328

Table 4
Water characteristics of Guadarrama Rivera
Sampling point
1 2 3 4 5 6
pH 7.07  0.07 7.00  0.08 7.01  0.08 7.0  0.03 7.01  0.07 6.88  0.09
K (mS/cm) 0.40  0.01 0.40  0.01 0.39  0.01 0.39  0.01 0.41  0.01 0.41  0.01
TSS (mg/l) 5.7  0.5 35.1  13.9 9.5  1.3 12.2  1.5 13.2  0.1 15.2  1.8
Amm. (mg/l) 1.9  0.2 1.2  0.2 1.0  0.1 1.1  0.1 1.2  0.2 1.2  0.2
NO2 (mg/l) 0.21  0.02 0.17  0.01 0.16  0.01 0.19  0.01 0.17  0.01 0.17  0.01
NO3 (mg/l) 15.9  1.5 15.1  1.2 15.3  1.3 11.2  0.6 15.2  1.3 14.8  1.2
PT (mg/l) 2.6  0.2 2.4  0.1 2.1  0.1 2.2  0.1 1.9  0.1 2.2  0.1
COD (mg/l) 14.6  1.3 16.3  1.6 15.7  1.8 12.5  0.9 16.1  1.5 14.3  1.5
BOD5 (mg/l) 6.0  0.8 5.8  0.9 6.1  1.0 3.8  0.5 4.8  0.7 4.7  1.0
DO (mg/l) 9.9  0.2 6.2  0.3 5.6  0.2 5.7  0.3 5.7  0.2 5.8  0.2
D (mg/l) 3.9  0.1 4.3  0.3 4.9  0.2 4.7  0.2 4.8  0.2 4.9  0.2
T (8C) 13.0  0.6 13.6  0.6 13.7  0.7 13.8  0.7 13.1  0.7 13.0  0.7
Mean values  S.E. of 56 samples.

where k is a subjective constant with a maximum with minor relevance such as for example tempera-
value of 1 for apparently good quality water and ture and pH.
0.25 for apparently highly polluted water, Ci is the Table 3 shows the values suggested for the
normalized value of the parameter and Pi is the parameters Ci and Pi, used in the calculation of
relative weight assigned to each parameter. In this WQI, which were based on European Standards (EU,
work, such as in other studies reported in literature, 1975). When the values of WQI are in the range of 0–
the constant k was not considered in order not to 25, the water must be classified as ‘‘very bad’’; for a
introduce a subjective evaluation (Nives, 1999; WQI value in the range of 25–50 the water is classified
Hernández-Romero et al., 2004). In relation to as ‘‘bad’’; for WQI values in the range of 51–70 the
the parameter Pi, the maximum value of 4 was water classification is ‘‘medium’’; finally, when the
assigned to parameters of relevant importance for WQI values are within the range of 71–90 and 91–100
aquatic life as for example DO and TSS, while the the water is classified as ‘‘good’’ and as ‘‘excellent’’,
minimum value (unity) was assigned to parameters respectively (Jonnalagadda and Mhere, 2001).

Table 5
Water characteristics of the ‘‘La Torre and ‘‘Motilona’’ creeks (Guadarrama watershed)a
‘‘La Torre’’ ‘‘Motilona’’
Sampling Sampling Sampling Sampling Sampling Sampling Sampling Sampling
point 1 point 2 point 3 point 4 point 1 point 2 point 3 point 4
pH 7.13  0.05 7.31  0.04 7.23  0.05 7.30  0.02 7.22  0.04 7.23  0.02 7.56  0.03 7.39  0.08
K (mS/cm) 0.69  0.02 0.69  0.01 0.56  0.02 0.58  0.02 0.63  0.01 0.77  0.01 0.72  0.02 0.73  0.01
TSS (mg/l) 37.2  4.9 12.1  1.2 11.0  1.6 19.8  4.6 41.0  0.8 102.0  1.6 28.9  3.7 37.7  6.8
Amm. (mg/l) 6.4  0.8 7.5  1.2 5.2  0.9 4.0  0.6 4.6  0.2 12.2  1.6 6.1  0.6 10.1  1.4
NO2 (mg/l) 0.06  0.01 0.11  0.01 0.12  0.01 0.17  0.02 0.06  0.01 0.04  0.01 0.14  0.02 0.03  0.01
NO3 (mg/l) 2.3  0.4 5.3  0.9 3.7  0.3 11.2  1.1 2.8  0.2 3.4  0.6 8.1  1.4 0.9  0.2
PT (mg/l) 2.5  0.3 2.0  0.2 3.2  0.3 2.2  0.3 2.3  0.2 3.3  0.4 4.4  0.4 5.5  0.7
COD (mg/l) 94.8  9.2 60.7  9.9 44.9  7.6 32.5  6.8 159  4 359  32 163.3  18.4 161.1  21.5
BOD5 (mg/l) 45.4  5.2 28.5  3.8 14.5  2.2 11.2  1.6 51.0  2.5 109.0  11.6 60.7  8.7 66.6  11.7
DO (mg/l) 2.6  0.2 4.6  0.2 2.3  0.3 5.3  0.2 2.4  0.2 2.7  0.2 4.7  0.2 4.1  0.2
D (mg/l) 8.0  0.2 6.2  0.2 5.6  0.2 5.1  0.1 7.8  0.2 8.1  0.2 5.9  0.2 6.9  0.2
T (8C) 12.8  0.5 12.1  0.5 11.8  0.6 12.3  0.5 14.1  0.3 12.4  0.6 12.6  0.6 11.2  0.5
Mean values  S.E. of 56 samples.
E. Sánchez et al. / Ecological Indicators 7 (2007) 315–328 321

Table 6
Water characteristics of the ‘‘La Virgen’’ and ‘‘Fuentecillas’’ creeks (Guadarrama watershed)a
‘‘La Virgen’’ ‘‘Fuentecillas’’
Sampling point 1 Sampling point 2 Sampling point 3 Sampling point 1 Sampling point 2 Sampling point 3
pH 7.09  0.07 7.34  0.02 7.33  0.07 7.19  0.06 7.21  0.10 7.01  0.10
K (mS/cm) 0.69  0.02 0.75  0.01 0.74  0.01 0.84  0.02 0.74  0.03 0.77  0.04
TSS (mg/l) 26.4  4.3 11.5  1.6 22.9  4.3 1 414  493 74.8  9.2 1919  508
Amm. (mg/l) 6.8  0.9 5.5  0.9 4.3  0.3 5.5  0.9 2.9  0.2 0.6  0.1
NO2 (mg/l) 0.08  0.02 0.02  0.03 0.09  0.02 0.09  0.01 0.14  0.02 0.03  0.0
NO3 (mg/l) 1.2  0.2 1.0  0.1 5.2  1.0 3.6  0.5 7.0  0.3 7.6  0.5
PT (mg/l) 7.5  0.1 7.6  0.2 8.3  0.1 8.2  0.1 2.5  0.1 0.9  0.1
COD (mg/l) 75.7  5.8 54.6  5.4 49.5  5.6 593  154 78.0  10.7 37.2  5.7
BOD5 (mg/l) 27.7  3.2 14.0  1.8 15.6  1.8 209  39 9.5  0.9 3.0  0.5
DO (mg/l) 3.7  0.2 3.6  0.3 4.3  0.3 2.7  0.2 5.1  0.1 7.3  0.1
D (mg/l) 6.6  0.1 7.1  0.2 6.6  0.3 7.6  0.2 5.9  0.1 4.1  0.1
T (8C) 14.3  0.5 12.3  0.4 11.5  0.3 14.4  0.4 10.7  0.3 9.8  0.4
Mean values  S.E. of 56 samples.

3. Results and discussion 6.88, probably due to the increase in organic acid
concentration caused by the organic matter decom-
3.1. Characteristics of the waters of the different position introduced by La Torre and La Virgen creeks.
watersheds Similar behaviour was observed by other authors
(Bollinger et al., 1999; Jonnalagadda and Mhere,
Tables 4–7 show the mean values and standard 2001; Simeonov et al., 2003) in other streams. The
errors of the data obtained during the study of the three conductivity, indirect measurement of dissolved solids
watersheds. Table 4 summarizes the results obtained concentration, remained practically constant between
for the six sampling points tested in the Guadarrama the sampling points 1–6. On the other hand, the
River. The mean values of pH remained practically concentration of TSS augmented significantly from
constant between the sampling points 1–5, but at the point 1 to point 2 and decreased in point 3, increasing
sampling point 6 the mean value of pH decreased to again in points 4–6. The increase of suspended solids

Table 7
Water characteristics of ‘‘Manzanares’’ and ‘‘Paris Park’’ watershedsa
‘‘Manzanares’’ ‘‘Paris Park’’
Sampling point 1 b Sampling point 2 c Sampling point 1 Sampling point 2 Sampling point 3 Sampling point 4
pH 6.96  0.04 6.60  0.05 8.04  0.16 8.17  0.15 7.63  0.12 7.87  0.14
K (mS/cm) 0.32  0.01 0.34  0.02 0.23  0.02 0.26  0.01 0.27  0.01 0.25  0.01
TSS (mg/l) 6.6  0.1 40.3  5.9 7.8  0.8 30.8  4.5 41.0  4.2 28.5  4.6
Amm. (mg/l) 1.6  0.2 0.8  0.1 0.9  0.1 0.9  0.1 1.1  0.2 0.9  0.1
NO2 (mg/l) 0.07  0.01 0.03  0.01 0.01  0.01 0.01  0.01 0.01  0.01 0.01  0.01
NO3 (mg/l) 6.9  0.5 8.9  0.9 0.7  0.1 5.2  1.8 3.5  1.2 3.7  1.0
PT (mg/l) 1.4  0.1 0.6  0.1 0.2  0.1 0.4  0.1 0.4  0.1 0.5  0.1
COD (mg/l) 32.7  3.5 33.0  2.0 52.5  6.8 59.1  8.7 64.0  8.1 45.3  8.0
BOD5 (mg/l) 10.3  1.0 8.0  0.9 13.4  1.6 24.8  3.8 20.9  2.0 16.7  2.9
DO (mg/l) 5.2  0.3 5.3  0.2 6.9  0.2 5.5  0.3 3.6  0.3 5.4  0.3
D (mg/l) 5.5  0.2 6.4  0.3 2.4  0.2 3.9  0.3 5.9  0.2 4.0  0.3
T (8C) 12.4  0.4 8.6  0.3 18.6  0.3 18.6  0.4 18.2  0.4 18.2  0.4
Mean values  S.E. of 56 samples.
‘‘La Trofa creek’’.
‘‘Barrancohondo creek’’.
322 E. Sánchez et al. / Ecological Indicators 7 (2007) 315–328

may affect the metabolism of photosynthetic organ- oxygen deficit (D). Similar results were reported by
isms and the production of oxygen (Hernández- other authors (Bollinger et al., 1999; Bordalo et al.,
Romero et al., 2004; Jarvie et al., 1998; Jonnalagadda 2001; Carpenter et al., 1998; Cox, 2003; Jonnala-
and Mhere, 2001; Simeonov et al., 2003; Williams gadda and Mhere, 2001; Liou et al., 2003; Mullholand
et al., 2000). Ammonia, nitrite and nitrate concentra- et al., 2005; Nives, 1999; Quinn et al., 2005; Smith,
tions decreased from point 1 to point 2 and had slight 1989).
variation in points 3–6. Total phosphorus concentra- Table 5 also shows the characteristics of Motilona
tion was slightly higher in point 1 with respect to the creek water, influent of La Torre creek. The mean
other sampling points. The concentration of COD and value of pH and conductivity increased between
BOD5 increased slightly from points 1–3, decreased points 1 and 3, but decreased at point 4. The
in point 4, increasing again in points 5 and 6. concentration of TSS increased from point 1 to point
However, significant differences of the mean values 2, decreased at point 3 and increased again at point 4.
could not be observed. The dissolved oxygen Ammonia and phosphorus concentrations increased
concentration decreased from point 1 to point 3 and down-stream while the concentration of nitrate
remained practically constant in points 3–6. There- increased between points 1 and 3, but decreased at
fore, the oxygen deficit increased slightly as far as point 4. Values of COD and BOD5 were high in all
point 3 and remained practically constant down- sampling points throughout the creek with mean
stream. Similar results have been obtained by other values of concentrations in the range of 159–359 mg/l
authors (Bollinger et al., 1999; Bordalo et al., 2001; and from 51 to 109 mg/l, respectively, both equiva-
Carpenter et al., 1998; Jonnalagadda and Mhere, lents to a low-strength domestic wastewater. In
2001; Liou et al., 2003; Nives, 1999; Smith, 1989). consequence, the DO concentration was lower than
Among the six sampling points evaluated, the water 5 mg/l, while the oxygen deficit values were higher
quality appears to be affected after the point of mixing than 5.5 mg/l, respectively. The low quality of the
between Guadarrama River and La Torre creek Motilona creek water may be caused by the discharge
(sampling point 3) and in point 5 due to the mixing of MWWTP effluents in points 1–3.
with La Virgen creek as may be observed in Fig. 1. Table 6 summarizes the characteristics of La
Table 5 shows the profiles of the parameters Virgen creek. As can be seen the mean values of pH
monitored in La Torre creek. The values of pH and conductivity increased throughout the creek.
remained in the range of 7.1–7.3. The values of The concentration of TSS decreased from point 1 to
conductivity decreased compared to the value point 2 but increased again at point 3. The ammonia
observed at the initial sampling point. The concen- concentration decreased, while the concentration of
tration of TSS decreased down-stream between points nitrate and phosphorus increased throughout the
1 and 3 but increased at point 4 due to the discharge of creek. Moreover, the values of COD and BOD5
the final effluent of municipal wastewater treatment decreased. These values were lower than those
plants (MWWTPs) (Fig. 1). The mean value of observed in Motilona creek but may still be considered
ammonia concentration decreased while nitrites and high taking into account that the mean COD and
nitrate concentrations increased throughout the creek, BOD5 values ranged from 49 to 76 mg/l and from 14
which may be caused by the nitrification process and to 28 mg/l, respectively. Values of DO and oxygen
the incorporation of nitrified effluents from the deficit were in the range of 3.6–4.4 mg/l and 6.5–
MWWTPs. The mean concentration of total phos- 7.1 mg/l, respectively.
phorus suffered a minimum variation in the points Table 6 also shows the characteristics of Fuente-
evaluated although a slight tendency to increase was cillas creek. The mean value of pH slightly increased,
appreciated from the point 1 to 4. The mean COD and while the conductivity decreased throughout the
BOD5 concentrations decreased down-stream, the creek. The concentration of TSS decreased at point
minimum being observed at the point of discharge in 2 but increased again at point 3. Ammonia concentra-
the Guadarrama River probably due to the oxidation tion decreased while the nitrate concentration
of the organic matter causing the reduction of increased throughout the creek, showing that the
dissolved oxygen concentration and the increase in nitrification process took place. Moreover, the COD
E. Sánchez et al. / Ecological Indicators 7 (2007) 315–328 323

and BOD5 values also decreased considerably from

593 to 37 mg/l and from 209 to 3 mg/l, respectively,
showing that a high rate of organic matter oxidation
occurred throughout the creek. This fact was remarked
because an increase of the DO concentration and a
decrease of the oxygen deficit were observed at the
same time.
Table 7 summarizes the characteristics of La Trofa
and Barrancohondo creeks (Manzanares watershed).
The mean value of pH was around 7 for La Trofa and
6.6 for Barrancohondo although significant differ-
ences could not be established. TSS concentration was
lower in La Trofa water than in Barrancohondo.
Nutrients concentration was very similar when
compared samples of La Trofa and Barrancohondo
creeks and Guadarrama River, but they were
significantly lower than those observed in the samples Fig. 2. Variation of the water quality index (WQI) and dissolved
of Guadarrama watershed. Mean values of COD and oxygen deficit (D) for the different sampling points assessed in
BOD5 were around 30 and 10 mg/l, respectively, for ‘‘Guadarrama’’ River.
both points analysed. These values were significantly
lower than those obtained in the Guadarrama 3.2. Evaluation of the water quality with the use
watershed influents but comparable to the values of the WQI and D
observed for Guadarrama River.
Finally, Table 7 also shows the characteristics of the In order to evaluate the feasibility of the WQI
water in Paris Park. The mean values of pH were and D as indicators of the level of pollution of the
higher than 7.60 in all points sampled with a water samples analysed, the values of these para-
maximum of 8.17 for point 2, corresponding to meters were determined in the different sampling
Superior Lake. Therefore, the water pH was appro- points. Figs. 2–6 show plots of the variation of values
priate for the presence and metabolism of photosyn- of WQI and the oxygen deficit (D) for the different
thetic organisms (Bollinger et al., 1999; Bordalo et al.,
2001; Carpenter et al., 1998; Jarvie et al., 1998;
Melloul and Collin, 1998; Nagel, 2001). The mean
values of conductivity were lower than those observed
in waters from other watersheds. The concentration of
TSS was in the range of 7–41 mg/l, with a maximum
for point 2. The concentrations of ammonia were
lower than those observed in the waters from other
watersheds evaluated, while the concentrations of
nitrite were higher. The concentration of nitrate was at
a maximum at point 2. However, the values of this
parameter were lower than those obtained in the other
surface waters. The values of COD were in the range
of 45–65 mg/l, while the BOD5 values were in the
range of 13–25 mg/l, showing a maximum at point 2.
Finally, the values of DO were higher than 3 mg/l, the
minimum being at point 3, while the oxygen deficit Fig. 3. Variation of the water quality index (WQI) and dissolved
was lower than 6 mg/l at all points, the maximum oxygen deficit (D) for the different sampling points assessed in ‘‘La
value being located at point 3. Torre’’ creek.
324 E. Sánchez et al. / Ecological Indicators 7 (2007) 315–328

Fig. 4. Variation of the water quality index (WQI) and dissolved

oxygen deficit (D) for the different sampling points assessed in
‘‘Motilona’’ creek.
Fig. 6. Variation of the water quality index (WQI) and dissolved
sampling points taken from the Guadarrama river, oxygen deficit (D) for the different sampling points assessed in
La Torre, La Motilona, La Virgen and Fuentecillas ‘‘Fuentecillas’’ creek.
creeks, respectively, during the monitoring of the
Guadarrama watersheds. Fig. 2 shows the values of down-stream, achieving values of 68.6, 67.8 and
WQI and D along the Guadarrama River at the 64.6 at points 4, 5 and 6, respectively. Fig. 2 also
different points sampled. The value of WQI was shows the variation of oxygen deficit throughout the
70.4 at point 1; the value decreased to 64.8 at point river, this parameter being at a minimum at point 1 and
2 and increased to 70.0 at point 3, just before the increasing at points 2 and 3, followed by a decrease
mixing point with waters coming from La Torre creek. at point 4 and finally another increase at points 5 and
After this point a slight decrease was appreciated 6. Therefore, a tendency of oxygen deficit to increase
with the decrease in WQI was appreciated. The
values of WQI obtained indicated that the quality of
the water in the Guadarrama River decreased in the
Las Rozas area. According to the values of WQI, the
water in the Guadarrama River may be classified as of
‘‘medium’’ quality. Fig. 3 shows the variation of the
WQI and D in La Torre creek. The value of WQI was
51.9 at point 1 and it increased to 56.0 at point 2 and
to 62.2 at point 3 just before the mixing with the water
in the Motilona, with a WQI of 52.0. This fact
determined a reduction in the WQI to 61.1 at point 4.
The water quality increased through sampling points
1–3, showing a certain self-purification capacity of
La Torre creek.
The variation of D appears to be inversely propo-
rtional to the WQI, the maximum value being at point
1 and the minimum at point 3. According to the values
Fig. 5. Variation of the water quality index (WQI) and dissolved
of WQI obtained, the water quality in this case was
oxygen deficit (D) for the different sampling points assessed in ‘‘La lower than that observed in the Guadarrama River,
Virgen’’ creek. although it may still be classified as a ‘‘medium’’
E. Sánchez et al. / Ecological Indicators 7 (2007) 315–328 325

quality. Fig. 4 shows the variation of WQI and D for

the Motilona creek. The values of WQI progressively
increased from a value of 40 at the point 1 due to the
discharge of final effluent of a MWWTP to a value of
52 through sampling points 1–4 and at the same time
the value of D decreased from about 8 mg/l to around
6 mg/l. From sampling points 3–4, final effluents of a
two WWTPs were discharged into this creek but the
value of WQI was in the range of 49–52, which
corresponded to ‘‘medium’’ quality.
Fig. 5 shows the variation of WQI and D through
the sampling points of La Virgen creek. Three
sampling points were selected. The first sampling
point received treated wastewater from a municipal
wastewater treatment plant. At this point the WQI
was 53.3 and the value of D was 6.58 mg/l. The WQI
increased through this creek up to a value of 62.1 at Fig. 7. Variation of the water quality index (WQI) and dissolved
the point of discharge in the Guadarrama River oxygen deficit (D) for the different sampling points assessed in
(point 3). At this point, the value of D decreased to ‘‘Paris’’ Park.
6.09 mg/l. The value of WQI shows that the quality
of the water in La Virgen creek was similar to the Fig. 7 shows the values of WQI and D for the
water in La Torre creek and better than the water in different samples corresponding to the Paris Park.
Motilona creek. Point 1 (Wharf) showed the highest value of WQI and
Fig. 6 shows the values of WQI and D for the the lowest value of D while point 3 (Estuary) showed
Fuentecillas creek. The values of WQI increased the lowest value of WQI and the highest value of D.
throughout the creek, while the value of D decreased. According to the average value of WQI of 72.2, the
The first point coincided with the effluent from a water from the Wharf may be classified as ‘‘good’’,
municipal wastewater treatment plant delivering while the others may be classified as of ‘‘medium’’
water with a WQI equal to 37.7 and D equal to quality, very near the classification of ‘‘good’’, except
7.6 mg/l. The water quality improved considerably in the case of the water from the Estuary, with a WQI
down-stream, the values of WQI and D being equal to of 55.5 and oxygen deficit of 5.66 mg/l. The values of
52.2 mg/l and to 5.99 mg/l, respectively at point 2 and water quality in this basin are acceptable for
70.5 and 4.11 mg/l, respectively at point 3 (discharge recreational use according to E.U. standards (EU,
in the Guadarrama River). Hence, the water in the 1975).
Fuentecillas creek was of better quality than that
observed in the Guadarrama River and in the other 3.3. Determination of the empirical relationship
creeks evaluated. Finally, taking into account all the between WQI and D
points sampled the water from the Fuentecillas creek
may be classified as ‘‘bad’’ at point 1 and as ‘‘good’’ at The results obtained show that the values of the
the point of discharge in the Guadarrama River. water quality index (WQI) appear to be related to the
The evaluation of the data corresponding to the values of oxygen deficit (D). It was found that when
Manzanares watershed (La Trofa and Barrancohondo the value of D increased, the value of WQI decreased.
creeks) shows that the value of WQI was 65.2 and Fig. 8 shows a plot of the average values of WQI
62.2, while the value of D was 5.51 and 6.42 for the against the average values of D in all watersheds
first and the second point, respectively. These values evaluated. A straight line was obtained, with a linear
indicate a water quality classified as ‘‘medium’’ and equation as follows:
with the same quality as that obtained in the
Guadarrama River. WQI ¼ 6:39D þ 93:61 (2)
326 E. Sánchez et al. / Ecological Indicators 7 (2007) 315–328

the classification of the water was obtained by using

Eq. (2) and the data obtained compared to those
obtained in Eq. (1). Table 8 shows the results obtained
in both equations, which coincided in 93% of the
samples analysed with a probability level of 95% on
the basis of the 26 samples studied.

3.4. Influence of the climate conditions on the


The influence of the climate conditions on the WQI

of the Guadarrama River was evaluated. Fig. 9 shows
the variation of the WQI for the six sampling points of
Guadarrama River as a function of the season. Values
of WQI were in the range of 80–90 during the winter,
and these values were significantly higher than those
Fig. 8. Regression line between the WQI and dissolved oxygen
deficit (D). observed in other seasons. In the rest of the seasons the
values of WQI ranged from 50 to 70 and significant
The regression coefficient (R2) was found to be differences could not be clearly observed among them.
equal to 0.91 with p  0.1. In order to demonstrate the Three factors may influence the WQI: the precipita-
feasibility of Eq. (2) to determine the water quality, tion level, the temperature of the surroundings and
based on the data of dissolved oxygen deficit (D), solar radiation. The high level of rainfall helped to
Table 8
Comparison of the results obtained for WQI by using Eqs. (1) and (2)
Sample WQI (Eq. (1)) WQI (Eq. (2)) Water classification (Eq. (1)) Water classification (Eq. (2))
P1. Guadarrama 70.4 68.6 Good Medium
P2. Guadarrama 65.0 66.2 Medium Medium
P3. Guadarrama 70.0 62.4 Medium Medium
P4. Guadarrama 68.6 63.3 Medium Medium
P5. Guadarrama 67.8 62.4 Medium Medium
P6. Guadarrama 64.6 62.4 Medium Medium
P1. La Torre 51.9 42.4 Medium Bad
P2. La Torre 56.0 53.9 Medium Medium
P3. La Torre 62.2 52.6 Medium Medium
P4. La Torre 61.1 57.5 Medium Medium
P1. Motilona 40.0 41.5 Bad Bad
P2. Motilona 41.2 41.9 Bad Bad
P3. Motilona 50.8 49.4 Medium Bad
P4. Motilona 52.0 58.9 Medium Medium
P1. La Virgen 53.3 51.6 Medium Medium
P2. La Virgen 60.7 54.5 Medium Medium
P3. La Virgen 62.1 54.7 Medium Medium
P1. Fuentecillas 37.7 44.8 Bad Bad
P2. Fuentecillas 52.2 55.3 Medium Medium
P3. Fuentecillas 70.5 67.3 Medium Medium
P1. La Trofa 65.2 58.4 Medium Medium
P2. Barrancohondo 62.2 60.8 Medium Medium
P1. Wharf 72.7 78.1 Good Good
P2. Superior 69.1 68.7 Medium Medium
P3. Estuary 55.5 57.4 Medium Medium
P4. Inferior 65.6 68.7 Medium Medium
E. Sánchez et al. / Ecological Indicators 7 (2007) 315–328 327

of quality for the assigned uses. The determination of

WQI to the waters monitored demonstrated the
importance of this index in order to classify the
waters studied. It was found that the WQI was around
70 at the entrance to Las Rozas section and was 64.6
at the outlet of the section. This water was classified
as of ‘‘medium’’ quality. The water quality was influ-
enced by the quality of the creek influents of La Torre
and La Virgen with a value of WQI of 61.1 and 62.1,
respectively. The values of WQI for the Manzanares
River show a quality classified as ‘‘medium’’. The
results obtained in the monitoring of the Paris Park
show a water quality between ‘‘medium’’ and good.
The best quality was found in the Wharf and the worst
Fig. 9. Variation of the WQI for the six sampling points of Gua- in the Estuary. A high linear relationship between the
darrama River as a function of the season. WQI and the oxygen deficit (D) of the samples was
found. The classifications of water based on the two
decrease the WQI because it increased the amount of methods coincided in 93% of the samples studied.
water in the river, thus increasing the runoff and This allowed the determination of WQI based on the
uncontrolled pollution. An increase in temperature values of the oxygen deficit. The estimation of the
contributes to an increase in the biological activity, WQI by the calculation of the oxygen deficit is an
decreasing the dissolved oxygen concentration and advantageous way for a simple, rapid and economical
increasing the value of D. The increase in solar determination of a water quality. It was found that
radiation is favourable for photosynthesis, increasing water quality was influenced by the climatic condi-
the concentration of oxygen producing organisms tions, the highest qualities being observed during
(microalgae and aquatic plants), which increase the the winter.
dissolved oxygen concentration during the day but
cause the reduction of oxygen concentration at night.
Moreover, the increase of the concentration of Acknowledgements
photosynthetic organisms produced an additional
oxygen demand during the decomposition of dead We thank the municipal Government of ‘‘Las
biomass. For all these reasons the water quality Rozas’’ (Madrid, Spain), the ‘‘Consejerı́a de Medio
decreased in autumn, spring and summer, when Ambiente’’ for providing financial support for the
compared with winter. Other authors observed the present work through the programme of ‘‘Optimiza-
same phenomenon (Bordalo et al., 2001; Couillard ción de Recursos’’ and to the ‘‘Laboratorio Municipal
and Lefebvre, 1985; Hernández-Romero et al., 2004; de Salud Pública’’.
Jonnalagadda and Mhere, 2001; Pesce and Wunderlin,
2000; Rudolf et al., 2002).

American Public Health Association (APHA), 1999. Standard

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