Turbidity is used as an indicator of potential problems

Turbidity

(pic from http://www.epa.gov )

  1. Turbidity can indicate excessive soil erosion from earth-disturbing activities such as construction, agriculture, and logging.
  2. Turbidity often increases sharply during heavy rainfall in developed water-sheds, especially those having a relatively high proportion of impervious surface.
  3. Turbidity is used to monitor the erosion rates of stream banks and channels that may require additional erosion control practices.
  4. Not only does turbidity interfere with drinking water disinfection, but also suspended particles can provide a habitat for pathogens. The WHO (2010) recommends that the turbidity of drinking water be less than 1 NTU, but never more than 5 NTU. (Permenkes No 492 Tahun 2010, Turbidity = 5 NTU (max))
  5. Moderately low levels of turbidity may indicate a healthy, well-functioning ecosystem, with moderate amounts of plankton present to fuel the food chain.
  6. At higher level of turbidity :
  • suspended particles absorb energy from sunlight, making water bodies warmer and potentially reducing the concentration of DO to stressful levels for aquatic life.
  • photosynthesis of aquatic plants and algae is diminished, also decreasing DO.
  • in slow-moving water, settling particle may blanket and suffocate fish eggs, benthic animals and insect larvae
  • shallow lakes fill in faster to become marshland
  • suspended solids can transport sorbed metals, pesticides, nutrients and other low-solubility pollutants throughout a stream system
  • suspended solids can clog fish gills, reducing resistance to disease in fish, lowering growth rates and affecting egg and larval development

Reference

Eugene R. Weiner. Application of Environmental Aquatic Chemistry. A Practical Guide. Third edition. CRC Press

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