Influences of urban wastewaters on the stream water quality: a case study from Gumushane Province, Turkey


ENVIRONMENTAL MONITORING AND ASSESSMENT, vol.185, no.2, pp.1285-1303, 2013 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier


Urban wastewater in Turkey is primarily discharged without treatment to marine environments, streams and rivers, and natural and artificial lakes. Since it has been well established that untreated effluent in multi-use waters can have acute and chronic impacts to both the environment and human health, it is important to evaluate the consequences of organic enrichment relative to the structure and function of aquatic environment. We investigated the impacts of untreated municipal wastewater discharge from the city of Gumushane in the Eastern Black Sea Region of Turkey on the surface water quality of the stream Harsit. Several key water-quality indicators were measured: chemical oxygen demand (COD), ammonium nitrogen (NH (4) (+) -N), nitrite nitrogen (NO (2) (-) -N), nitrate nitrogen (NO (3) (-) -N), total Kjeldahl nitrogen (TKN), total nitrogen (TN), orthophosphate phosphorus (PO (4) (3-) -P), methylene blue active substances (MBAS), water temperature (t), pH, dissolved oxygen (DO), and electrical conductivity (EC). The monitoring and sampling studies were conducted every 15 days from March 2009 to February 2010 at three longitudinally distributed stations. While t, pH, DO, and EC demonstrated relatively little variability over the course of the study, other parameters showed substantial temporal and spatial variations. The most dramatic differences were noted in COD, NH (4) (+) -N, NO (2) (-) -N, TKN, TN, PO (4) (3-) P, and MBAS immediately downstream of the wastewater discharge. Concentration increases of 309 and 418 % for COD, 5,635 and 2,162 % for NH (4) (+) -N, 2,225 and 674 % for NO (2) (-) -N, 283 and 478 % for TKN, 208 and 213 % for PO (4) (3-) -P, and 535 and 1,260 % for MBAS were observed in the summer and autumn, respectively. These changes were associated with greatly diminished seasonal stream flows. Based on NO (2) (-) -N, TKN, PO (4) (3-) P, and MBAS concentrations, it was concluded that Harsit stream water was correctly classified as polluted. The most telling parameter, however, was NH (4) (+) -N, which indicated highly polluted waters in both the summer and autumn. The elevated concentrations of both P and N in the downstream segment of the stream triggered aggressive growth of submerged algae. This eutrophication of river systems is highly representative of many urban corridors and is symptomatic of ongoing organic enrichment that must be addressed through improved water treatment facilities.