Linking water quality guidelines to the natural characteristics of catchments in order to support distinct aquatic ecosystems: Water quality guidelines for suspended particulate matter

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

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract

Abstract

The natural characteristics of a catchment provide a template that controls the background rates of geomorphological processes operating within that catchment, which in-turn determines the background physico-chemical and hydro-morphological characteristics of the catchment's surface waters. Large differences in the natural characteristics of catchments (e.g. geology, topography, climate), lead to unique physico-chemical and hydro-morphological conditions that support unique freshwater communities. However, this uniqueness is not always recognised in international water quality guidelines, which often attempt to apply blanket water-quality guidelines to ‘protect' a wide range of ecosystems. In this paper we investigate the natural characteristics that control background concentrations of suspended particulate matter (SPM - including nano-scale particles to sand-sized sediments), which is a well-known cause of ecological degradation. At present, the management of SPM is hampered by a lack of understanding of the SPM conditions that water quality managers should aim to achieve in contrasting environments in order to support good ecological status. To address this, in this paper we examine the SPM preferences of contrasting biological communities that are in reference condition (minimal anthropogenic disturbance and high ecological status). We analyse historical SPM data collected on a monthly basis from a wide range of reference-condition temperate environments (638 stream/river sites comprising 42 different biological community-types). This analysis reveals that there are statistically significant differences (One-way ANOVA p < 0.001) between the background SPM concentrations observed in contrasting communities that are in reference condition. Mean background SPM concentrations for contrasting communities ranged from 1.7 to 26.2 mg L-1 (i.e. more than a 15-fold difference). We propose a model for predicting environment-specific water quality guidelines for SPM. In order to develop this model, the 638 reference-condition sites were first classified into one of five mean background SPM ranges (0.00-5.99, 6.00-11.99, 12.00-17.99, 18.00-23.99 and >24.00 mg L-1). Stepwise Multiple Discriminant Analysis (MDA) of these ranges showed that a site's SPM range can be predicted as a function of: mean annual air temperature, mean annual precipitation, mean altitude of upstream catchment, distance from source, slope to source, channel width and depth, the percentage of catchment area comprised of clay, chalk, and hard rock solid geology, and the percentage of the catchment area comprised of blown sand/landslide material as the surface (drift) material. Although the model is still being improved and developed, this research highlights the need to link water quality guidelines to the natural characteristics of catchments and the physico-chemical preferences of the biological communities that would naturally inhabit them.
Original languageEnglish
Pages0-0
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2012
EventAmerican Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting December 2012 - San Francisco, California, 2012
Duration: 1 Dec 2012 → …

Conference

ConferenceAmerican Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting December 2012
Period1/12/12 → …

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suspended particulate matter
aquatic ecosystem
catchment
water quality
geology
temperate environment
sand
hard rock
chalk
discriminant analysis
landslide
air temperature
topography
surface water
disturbance
clay
degradation
ecosystem
climate
river

Cite this

Bilotta, G., Grove, M., Harrison, C., Joyce, C., & Peacock, C. (2012). Linking water quality guidelines to the natural characteristics of catchments in order to support distinct aquatic ecosystems: Water quality guidelines for suspended particulate matter. 0-0. Abstract from American Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting December 2012, .
Bilotta, Gary ; Grove, Magdalena ; Harrison, C. ; Joyce, Christopher ; Peacock, C. / Linking water quality guidelines to the natural characteristics of catchments in order to support distinct aquatic ecosystems: Water quality guidelines for suspended particulate matter. Abstract from American Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting December 2012, .1 p.
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Linking water quality guidelines to the natural characteristics of catchments in order to support distinct aquatic ecosystems: Water quality guidelines for suspended particulate matter. / Bilotta, Gary; Grove, Magdalena; Harrison, C.; Joyce, Christopher; Peacock, C.

2012. 0-0 Abstract from American Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting December 2012, .

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract

TY - CONF

T1 - Linking water quality guidelines to the natural characteristics of catchments in order to support distinct aquatic ecosystems: Water quality guidelines for suspended particulate matter

AU - Bilotta, Gary

AU - Grove, Magdalena

AU - Harrison, C.

AU - Joyce, Christopher

AU - Peacock, C.

PY - 2012/12/1

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N2 - The natural characteristics of a catchment provide a template that controls the background rates of geomorphological processes operating within that catchment, which in-turn determines the background physico-chemical and hydro-morphological characteristics of the catchment's surface waters. Large differences in the natural characteristics of catchments (e.g. geology, topography, climate), lead to unique physico-chemical and hydro-morphological conditions that support unique freshwater communities. However, this uniqueness is not always recognised in international water quality guidelines, which often attempt to apply blanket water-quality guidelines to ‘protect' a wide range of ecosystems. In this paper we investigate the natural characteristics that control background concentrations of suspended particulate matter (SPM - including nano-scale particles to sand-sized sediments), which is a well-known cause of ecological degradation. At present, the management of SPM is hampered by a lack of understanding of the SPM conditions that water quality managers should aim to achieve in contrasting environments in order to support good ecological status. To address this, in this paper we examine the SPM preferences of contrasting biological communities that are in reference condition (minimal anthropogenic disturbance and high ecological status). We analyse historical SPM data collected on a monthly basis from a wide range of reference-condition temperate environments (638 stream/river sites comprising 42 different biological community-types). This analysis reveals that there are statistically significant differences (One-way ANOVA p < 0.001) between the background SPM concentrations observed in contrasting communities that are in reference condition. Mean background SPM concentrations for contrasting communities ranged from 1.7 to 26.2 mg L-1 (i.e. more than a 15-fold difference). We propose a model for predicting environment-specific water quality guidelines for SPM. In order to develop this model, the 638 reference-condition sites were first classified into one of five mean background SPM ranges (0.00-5.99, 6.00-11.99, 12.00-17.99, 18.00-23.99 and >24.00 mg L-1). Stepwise Multiple Discriminant Analysis (MDA) of these ranges showed that a site's SPM range can be predicted as a function of: mean annual air temperature, mean annual precipitation, mean altitude of upstream catchment, distance from source, slope to source, channel width and depth, the percentage of catchment area comprised of clay, chalk, and hard rock solid geology, and the percentage of the catchment area comprised of blown sand/landslide material as the surface (drift) material. Although the model is still being improved and developed, this research highlights the need to link water quality guidelines to the natural characteristics of catchments and the physico-chemical preferences of the biological communities that would naturally inhabit them.

AB - The natural characteristics of a catchment provide a template that controls the background rates of geomorphological processes operating within that catchment, which in-turn determines the background physico-chemical and hydro-morphological characteristics of the catchment's surface waters. Large differences in the natural characteristics of catchments (e.g. geology, topography, climate), lead to unique physico-chemical and hydro-morphological conditions that support unique freshwater communities. However, this uniqueness is not always recognised in international water quality guidelines, which often attempt to apply blanket water-quality guidelines to ‘protect' a wide range of ecosystems. In this paper we investigate the natural characteristics that control background concentrations of suspended particulate matter (SPM - including nano-scale particles to sand-sized sediments), which is a well-known cause of ecological degradation. At present, the management of SPM is hampered by a lack of understanding of the SPM conditions that water quality managers should aim to achieve in contrasting environments in order to support good ecological status. To address this, in this paper we examine the SPM preferences of contrasting biological communities that are in reference condition (minimal anthropogenic disturbance and high ecological status). We analyse historical SPM data collected on a monthly basis from a wide range of reference-condition temperate environments (638 stream/river sites comprising 42 different biological community-types). This analysis reveals that there are statistically significant differences (One-way ANOVA p < 0.001) between the background SPM concentrations observed in contrasting communities that are in reference condition. Mean background SPM concentrations for contrasting communities ranged from 1.7 to 26.2 mg L-1 (i.e. more than a 15-fold difference). We propose a model for predicting environment-specific water quality guidelines for SPM. In order to develop this model, the 638 reference-condition sites were first classified into one of five mean background SPM ranges (0.00-5.99, 6.00-11.99, 12.00-17.99, 18.00-23.99 and >24.00 mg L-1). Stepwise Multiple Discriminant Analysis (MDA) of these ranges showed that a site's SPM range can be predicted as a function of: mean annual air temperature, mean annual precipitation, mean altitude of upstream catchment, distance from source, slope to source, channel width and depth, the percentage of catchment area comprised of clay, chalk, and hard rock solid geology, and the percentage of the catchment area comprised of blown sand/landslide material as the surface (drift) material. Although the model is still being improved and developed, this research highlights the need to link water quality guidelines to the natural characteristics of catchments and the physico-chemical preferences of the biological communities that would naturally inhabit them.

M3 - Abstract

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EP - 0

ER -