Water quality is a complex term to evaluate. The health of a water ecosystem depends on so many things. These parameters are each intertwined and connected. For simplicity there are several mainstream parameters that are used in conjunction with each other to determine the water s quality. These include: alkalinity, ammonia content, carbon dioxide, chlorine, nitrates, dissolved oxygen, phosphates, temperature, and turbidity.
The most visible sign of poor water quality remains to be animal populations. Almost all animals will suffer if pollutants are in the water supply. There are several ways to lower pollution levels in water. Alkalinity is not a measure of pollution. It is a total measure of the substances in water that have acid-neutralization abilities.
Alkalinity is not pH. PH measures the strength of an acid or a base. Alkalinity actually shows a solution s power to react with an acid and buffer its pH. In a sense, alkalinity is the ability to change pH.
Alkalinity is important to animals that live near water and in water because it protects against pH changes. This quality of water counterattacks acid rain. The main sources of natural alkalinity are rocks, which contain carbonate, bicarbonate, and hydroxide compounds. If an alkalinity level is low it may be necessary to make carbonates and hydroxides more abundant. This can be achieved by adding rocks into water systems. Ammonia is characterized by NH 3.
It comes from fertilizers, and finds its way into watersheds by runoff. Ammonia speeds the process of eutrophication in waterways. It is very toxic to fish and aquatic organisms. Pollution occurs when ammonia levels rise above. 1 mg/L. Ammonia concentrations may be eliminated by reducing farm runoff.
Often times, when there are many trees and rooted plants runoff can be greatly reduced. Carbon Dioxide is a universal problem. Recently the news has been parading the information about global warming. Well, carbon dioxide is also a problem for water systems. All animals and many bacteria use oxygen and release carbon dioxide. This includes underwater animals and bacteria.
Green plants, in turn, absorb the carbon dioxide and, by the process of photosynthesis, produce oxygen. When carbon dioxide levels become high animals usually suffer detrimentally. A good way to lower carbon dioxide levels is to increase the number of green vegetation in the water. This will allow for the oxygen levels to increase and the carbon dioxide levels to decrease.
Chlorine is used all over the world. It remains one of the most effective means to disinfect water supplies. The problem resides when too much chlorine enters a natural ecosystem. Chlorine hurts animals, and in some cases people too. When chlorine combines with products in water it produces tri or THMs. These THMs in high concentrations can cause cancer in people.
In other words they are carcinogenic. An effective means to lower chlorine content is to monitor this at industrial and water supply plants. That way by the time it enters the ecosystem the levels of chlorine won't be damaging. Nitrates and Phosphates are major ingredients in farm fertilizers. They are necessary for crop production. Nitrates stimulate the growth of plankton and water weeds that provide food for fish.
This may increase the fish population. However, if age grow too wildly, oxygen levels will be reduced and the fish will die. As in the case of the ammonia, the only effective way to reduce too many nitrates and phosphates is to limit farm runoff. Dissolved oxygen is probably the most important factor in a healthy water environment. Dissolved oxygen is oxygen dissolved in water. It gets there by diffusion from ten surrounding air.
It is also a waste product of photosynthesis. If dissolved oxygen is in short supply then the aquatic life population often suffers. Often times cold water contains more dissolved oxygen because it has a larger dilution rate. The only way to stimulate increased oxygen levels is to provide more green plants. Temperature greatly indicates the health of a water way. There really isn't an effective and efficient means to control water temperature in a large body of water.
Generally since fish are cold-blooded they can t survive in extremely cold water, or extremely hot water. Each species has it s own optimum water temperature. The different species present in a body of water indicates that water s temperature ranges. Turbidity is also an indicator of water quality.
Turbidity basically is the visibility of the water. Or in other words: how cloudy is the water? When water is too cloudy vital sunlight is blocked from the plants below the surface and photosynthesis is slowed. Generally low turbidity is the best. Runoff and flooding may cause his.
So, as in other cases lowering runoff is optimal. A healthy waterway depends on so many parameters. Often times the different parameters act with or against each other. Balancing this phenomenon is a very difficult task.
Basically, nature is better off without man's involvement. To summarize; the different indicators of a healthy river are turbidity, dissolved oxygen content, nitrates, phosphates, chlorine, carbon dioxide, ammonia, and alkalinity.