Developing meaningful measures and guidelines for particulates in equatic ecosystems

Gary Bilotta, C. Harrison, Christopher Joyce, C. Peacock

Research output: Book/ReportBook - authoredpeer-review


Managing global water resources is one of the greatest challenges of the 21st Century. It is a resource that is under growing pressure as global populations rise and the natural supply, in the form of precipitation, is becoming increasingly variable and uncertain with climate change. It is therefore essential that water resources (surface and groundwaters) are managed sustainably in terms of both their quantity and quality. One of the most common causes for the impairment of water quality in surface waters and groundwaters is the presence of particulate matter. Particulate matter, from nano-scale particles and colloids to silt-sized sediments, can have a range of detrimental effects on water resources, from aesthetic issues and higher costs of water treatment, to a decline in the fisheries resource and serious ecological degradation. However at present, there is a poor understanding of the particulate conditions that water quality managers should aim to achieve in order to support good ecological status in different environments. There is also currently a general lack of rigour and standardisation in measurements of particulate matter in aquatic ecosystems, which in turn limits our understanding of the effects of these particles, and importantly, limits our ability to guide effective remediation. This poster describes a research approach that is currently being developed in the UK to address these issues; supporting (1) the development of ecosystem-specific water quality guidelines for particulate matter, and (2) the innovation of more advanced monitoring technologies for particulate matter in aquatic environments. The research project will utilise an established network of 13 reference condition sites (i.e. sites that have minimal anthropogenic disturbance) that contain distinct aquatic communities and are located in contrasting environment types. Hydrological and biological monitoring will be carried-out concurrently with analysis of the physical and geochemical properties of the particulates in each environment. Monitoring of the dynamics of these parameters will continue for 3.5 years, providing a medium to long-term record that can be used to develop statistical models and inform both water resource policy and technological innovation.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherAmerican Geophysical Union
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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