Monitoring and assessment of water health quality in the Tajan River

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Transcript of Monitoring and assessment of water health quality in the Tajan River


    Aazami et al. Journal of Environmental Health Science & Engineering (2015) 13:29 DOI 10.1186/s40201-015-0186-yRESEARCH ARTICLE Open AccessMonitoring and assessment of water health qualityin the Tajan River, Iran using physicochemical, fishand macroinvertebrates indicesJaber Aazami1, Abbas Esmaili-Sari1*, Asghar Abdoli2, Hormoz Sohrabi3 and Paul J Van den Brink4,5Abstract

    Background: Nowadays, aquatic organisms are used as bio-indicators to assess ecological water quality in westernregions, but have hardly been used in an Iranian context. We, therefore, evaluated the suitability of several indicesto assess the water quality for an Iranian case study.

    Methods: Measured data on biotic (fish and macroinvertebrates) and abiotic elements (28 physicochemical andhabitat parameters), were used to calculate six indices for assessment of water quality and the impact of humanactivities in the Tajan river, Iran. GIS, uni- and multivariate statistics were used to assess the correlations betweenbiological and environmental endpoints.

    Results: The results showed that ecological condition and water quality were reduced from up- to downstream.The reduced water quality was revealed by the biotic indices better than the abiotic ones which were linked to avariety of ecological water quality scales.

    Conclusion: The fish index showed a strong relationship with long-term database of physicochemical parameters(12 years (94%)), whereas macroinvertebrates index is more correlated with short-term data (76%). Meanwhile, thebiotic and abiotic elements in this study were also classified well by PCA. Pulp and wood plants and sand miningare indicated to have the most negative effects on the river ecosystem.

    Keywords: Water health quality, Bio-indicators, Tajan, Physicochemical parametersIntroductionOne of the greatest environmental challenges of thiscentury is to sustain natural biological structural andfunctional attributes of aquatic ecosystems, rivers in par-ticular. This goal requires that we know the condition ofthese dynamic systems and how they are being affectedby specific factors and forces [1]. Nowadays, we can eas-ily see that there are many pollutants in the environmentdue to anthropogenic activities. The destruction of nat-ural habitats and the presence of environmental pollut-ants may affect the ecological balance of everyecosystem [2]. Among various ecosystems in the world,rivers which cross different areas such as agriculture andindustry are the most threatened and affected by* Correspondence: [email protected] of Environment, Faculty of Natural Resources, Tarbiat ModaresUniversity, Tehran, IranFull list of author information is available at the end of the article

    2015 Aazami et al.; licensee BioMed CentralCommons Attribution License (http://creativecreproduction in any medium, provided the orDedication waiver (http://creativecommons.orunless otherwise stated.anthropogenic activities [3]. In developing countriessuch as Iran, water pollution is a common and wide-spread problem. Therefore, water resource managementof rivers is of great importance and especially essentialfor semiarid and developing countries [4]. Assessmentand classification of ecological water quality usingindices-based approaches can help the conservation andmanagement of rivers. The measurement of physico-chemical parameters is usually time-consuming, cost-intensive and also dependent on special instruments.However, physicochemical parameters can only showwater quality at the moment of measurement and thesecan change over time. Nowadays, indicators based onthe presence or absence aquatic organisms have beendeveloped to assess water quality and for the classifica-tion of ecological status. Norris and Thoms suggestedthat the effects on biota are usually the final point of. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, andiginal work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domaing/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article,

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  • Aazami et al. Journal of Environmental Health Science & Engineering (2015) 13:29 Page 2 of 12environmental degradation and pollution of rivers andthus are an important indication of ecosystem health [5].Many living organisms (e.g. small mammals, fish,

    aquatic plants, algae, invertebrates) can be used to assessecological water quality. Fish encompass differenttrophic levels, have a long life cycle, and high mobility,and can herewith be used to integrate the effects ofhabitat change and environmental pollution over a longperiod [6]. Macroinvertebrates are used for bioassess-ment because they are relatively easily sampled and are avery biodiverse group of species inhabiting waters that iscontaminated to a different extent (from clean to highlypolluted) [7-9]. They are important for the cycling oforganic matter and provide food resources for highertrophic levels. The fluctuation of macroinvertebrate rich-ness in the aquatic environment may result in thechange of the ecosystem function. Moreover, the rela-tively low mobility and long life cycles of macroinverte-brates ensure that the presence of a given taxon reflectsthe past conditions. Many previous studies have shownthe importance of biotic indices in the world, especiallyin Europe [10].However, there are only a few studies using biotic indi-

    ces in Asian countries such as Iran. The water qualitymonitoring programs in Iran are mainly based on thedetermination of some physicochemical parameters andwater quality indices have generally not yet been use asa tool for the assessment and management of river eco-systems. Meanwhile, scientific efforts have often focusedon improving freshwater resources that are of economic,cultural or spiritual importance. Unfortunately, most ofthese efforts have proceeded without documentation ofthe relative successes and failures of individual activities.Even though success is noted, there is often a lack ofbiotic data to identify specific results or endpoints forthe river management activity [1].In this study, we tried to employ the most widely used

    biotic and physicochemical indices to classify the ecologicalwater quality in one of the most important Iranian rivers,the Tajan River. This river was chosen as a pilot river fromthe 115 rivers in the north of Iran because of having a goodwater-flow, discharge regime, catchment area, Accessibilityand environmental condition [11]. Also, there are manysimilarities such as environmental landscape, climate andland uses between this river and European rivers. Besides,it is possible to select some stations as references becauseof being away of human activities.The goals of this study were to determine and classify

    the ecological water quality of Tajan River based on dif-ferent indices of water quality and to evaluate their per-formance, to zone the water quality based on theseindices and GIS (Geographic Information System), toassess the effects of human land uses on the river and tocompare the results between up- and down-stream partsof the river. This is the first study that compares bioticand physicochemical indices, as well as uses fish speciesas a bio indicator in an Iranian River.

    Materials and methodsStudy areaThe Tajan River is one of the best freshwater ecosystemsin the Mazandaran province located in the north of Iran.The river is 140 km long and originates from forestedmountains and continues through different land uses,especially the agricultural areas of the coastal plain,where rice is extensively cultivated. The river eventuallyterminates in the Caspian Sea, the biggest land-lockedaquatic ecosystem in the world (Figure 1). There are dif-ferent land-uses including agriculture, aquaculture, damconstruction, sand mining and industrial activities in theriver [11,12]. It is chosen as a pilot river from the 115rivers in north of Iran [13] because of having a goodwater-flow, discharge regime, catchment area and envir-onmental condition. The Tajan River is divided to towparts (Upstream and Downstream) by an old big dam(Shahid-Rajaie Dam, 1993). Water, macroinvertebratesand fish were sampled at 17 sites in September 2013.Eight sites are located in the upstream part and 9 sitesin the downstream part. Also, five sites were selected asreference sites where there was no or slight pollutionexpected. Site selection was based on land use, accessi-bility and anthropogenic activities. Sites were subjectedto non-point (i.e. agricultural runoff ) and point influents(i.e. fish pond).

    Physicochemical and habitat parametersWidth, length, depth, altitude (m), dissolved oxygen (mg/l),pH, water and air temperature (C), conductivity (S/cm),turbidity (NTU) and nutrients (NO3-N, NO2-N, NH4-N,and PO4-P, mg/l) were measured in situ by using Portablemulti-parameter water analyser and UVvis Spectropho-tometry 8000. Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD5, mg/l)and Total Suspended Solids (TSS, mg/l) were determinedaccording to APHA [14] with three replicate samples beingmeasured in the laboratory. Some stations in this studyoverlapped with the stations of Iranian Water ResourcesManagement (IWRM). Therefore, the accuracy of the col-lected data of physicochemical parameters was checkedwith the data of IWRM which had collected monthly datafor twelve years. Average water flow (m/sec) was calculatedby calculating the average of the recordings available fromthe IWRM for the same period as our sampling. Accord-ing to the Field Manual for Water Quality Monitoring, theNational Sanitation Foundation Water Quality Index(NSFWQI) surveyed 142 sites representing a wide rangeof locations at the local, state, and national l