Watershed Management, Eutrophication as an Environmental Problem and Protection Tools

Watershed Management

Research Paper (postgraduate) 2015 17 Pages

Environmental Sciences


Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Environmental Problem in Watershed: Eutrophication

3. Tools of Watershed Protection
3.1. Tool #1 Land Use Planning (EPA, 2007)
3.2. Tool #2 Land Conservation (EPA, 2007)
3.3. Tool #3 Aquatic Buffers (EPA, 2007)
3.4. Tool #4 Better Site Design (EPA, 2007)
3.5. Tool #5 Erosion & Sediment Control (ESC) (EPA, 2007)
3.6. Tool #6 Storm Water Management (EPA, 2007)
3.7. Tool #7 Non-Storm Water Discharges (EPA, 2007)
3.8. Tool #8 Watershed Stewardship (EPA, 2007)

4. Results

5. Conclusions


A watershed can be defined as a catchment or drainage basin. Watershed management is considered as the most appropriate approach to ensure the preservation, conservation and sustainability of all land based resources and for improving the living conditions of the people. Watershed management tries to bring about the best possible balance in the environment between natural resources on the one side, and human and other living beings on the other. The degree of success of watershed management interventions primarily depends on the will of the people and the scale of activities involved in it. Recent studies show that participation of people is the core component of watershed management programs. The objective of the paper is to underline the eutrophication as one of the major environmental pollution problem in watersheds, and finally explore the methods, protection tools or strategies involved in the sustainable watershed management.

Keywords: Eutrophication, Environment, Pollution, Protection Tools, Watershed Management.

1. Introduction

Watershed is the area of land that catches rain and snow and drains surface water to a common waterway such as a stream, river, lake or wetland, see Figure 1. Watershed management is the rational utilization of the land and water resources for optimum production with minimum hazard to natural resources. The basic principle of watershed management is to use the land according to its capability and treat the land according to its needs for the sustainable development of the people living in that area. The land that is being used beyond its capability produces adverse effects on the environment like soil degradation in form of erosion, ground water depletion etc. (Rao et al., 2004). Probable Environmental Hazards and toxic effects on human health regarding the wrong policies on watershed management should be determined. Contaminant Pathways for Nutrient loadings are shown in Figure 2. (EPA, 2006). The methods used in the creation of this study included summarizing research literature that discusses particular issues regarding the watersheds, environmental problems happened in watersheds and coasts. Attention was focused specifically on Tools that could be used in the Watershed management as a best management practices.

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Figure 1. Typical Sketch for Watershed (TTGSWMC, 1997).

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Figure 2. Contamination Pathways (EPA, 2006).

2. Environmental Problem in Watershed: Eutrophication

Lakes are sometimes subjected to wastewater discharges originating from different sources. Chemicals like nitrogen, phosphorus and carbon in certain concentrations can distort and disrupt aquatic ecosystems by overfeeding (Akkoyunlu, 2003). The contamination drained into the water causes an Eutrophication. Eutrophication can be defined as the process of changing the nutritional status of a given waterbody by increasing the nutrient resources (Richardson et al., 1996) (see Fig. 3).

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Figure 3. The simplified process of eutrophication (Sir Francis Drake High School, 2008).

Because of the harmful algal blooms (see Fig. 4-5) there were 3164 reported incidents of human poisoning and 148 deaths in the Asian-Pacific region alone in mid 1994’s. Economic losses may exceed $1 million per event, and $50000 for each affected area (Smith, 2003).

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Figure 4. A lake surface algal bloom (Bricker et al., 1999).

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Figure 5. Eutrophication and Water Pollution effects on living things (Bricker et al., 1999).

Three distinct layers of water each with a different temperature range characterize thermal stratification. These layers are Epilimnion, Metalimnion (Thermocline) and Hypolimnion, respectively. Epilimnion is the upper layer of warmer surface water, below the Epilimnion is the Metalimnion, an area where there is a rapid drop in temperature with depth. Hypolimnion is the lower most layer of cold, dense water. Figure 5. shows the dissolved oxygen distribution and the thermal zones in accordance with the depth of the water. According to the measurements of Serra (2002) at the specific location, Metalimnion is between the depths from 6 to 10m (Serra et al., 2002). Dissolved Oxygen is the important factor which affects the Eutrophication.

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Figure 5. Oxygen concentration profile with respect to depth (Serra et al., 2002).

Substances which contribute to eutrophication are particularly nitrates and phosphates (EU, 2000). Basic process of phytoplankton-nutrient interaction is shown in Figure 6. Temperature is another factor which contributes the Eutrophication.

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Figure 6. Basic process of phytoplankton-nutrient interaction (Thomann et al.,1987)

3. Tools of Watershed Protection

There are 8 tools of Watershed Protection. These are Land Use Planning, Land Conservation, Aquatic Buffers, Better Site Design, Erosion & Sediment Control (ESC), Storm Water Management, Non-Storm Water Discharges, Watershed Stewardship, respectively.

3.1. Tool #1 Land Use Planning (EPA, 2007)

Use watershed-based zoning and planning (see Fig. 7). Overlay zones, and urban growth boundaries to dictate where development occurs.

To Protect Wetlands:

- Incorporate wetland management into local watershed plans.

- Adopt a local wetland protection ordinance.

- Adopt floodplain, stream buffer (indirect protection).

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Figure 7. Land Use Planning in Sheboygan River Priority Watershed (Corsi et al., 2005)

3.2. Tool #2 Land Conservation (EPA, 2007)

Conserve critical habitat areas and other important natural or cultural resources.

To Protect Wetlands:

- Identify priority wetlands to be conserved (see Fig. 8).

- Select techniques for conserving wetlands.

- Prioritize other conservation areas in Contributing Drainage Area (CDA).

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Figure 8. Priority conservation areas (in green C1-C8) identified for the Yarmouth Creek Watershed, Virginia (EPA, 2007).

3.3. Tool #3 Aquatic Buffers (EPA, 2007)

Use vegetative barriers to protect water resources from disturbance (see Fig. 9).

To Protect Wetlands:

- Require vegetated buffers around all wetlands.

- Increase the width around sensitive wetlands.

- Expand buffers to connect wetlands with other critical habitats.

- Increase stream buffer widths to protect downstream wetlands.

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Fig. 9. Example for aquatic buffer (EPA, 2007).

3.4. Tool #4 Better Site Design (EPA, 2007)

Increase open space to conserve natural areas and reduce impervious cover at individual developments (see Fig. 10).

To Protect Wetlands:

- Encourage designs that minimize wetland crossings.

- Require (or promote) the use of open space design to protect wetlands.

- Encourage designs that use natural drainage paths to convey and infiltrate runoff.

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Figure 10. Example for Better Site Design (EPA, 2007).

3.5. Tool #5 Erosion & Sediment Control (ESC) (EPA, 2007)

Minimize uncontrolled sediment and erosion from construction sites.

To Protect Wetlands:

- Require perimeter controls along wetland buffer boundaries.
- Encourage more rapid stabilization near wetlands.
- Reduce disturbance thresholds that trigger ESC plans.
- Increase the frequency of site inspections.
- Increase ESC requirements during rainy season.
- Encourage site fingerprinting or construction phasing.

Silt (Sediment) Fence Installation for erosion and sediment control is seen in Fig. 11.

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Fig. 11. Example for erosion and sediment control (Alaska Dept. of Fish & Game, 2007)

3.6. Tool #6 Storm Water Management (EPA, 2007)

Install practices to reduce quantity and increase quality of water before discharging or infiltrating it.

To Protect Wetlands:

-Restrict discharges of untreated storm water to natural wetlands.
-Prohibit the use of natural wetlands for storm water treatment (see Fig. 12).
-Discourage constrictions at wetland outlets.
-Encourage fingerprinting of Sewage Treatment Plants (STP)s around natural wetlands.
-Discourage installation of STPs within wetland buffers.
-Develop special sizing criteria for STPs.
-Promote effective STPs to protect downstream wetlands.
-Incorporate wetland features into STPs and landscaping.

The wetlands' main function is to remove nitrogen, but it also has the capacity to remove BOD, suspended solids, heavy metals etc (Annis, 2007).

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Figure 12. Example for Wetland, part of storm water management (EPA, 2007).

3.7. Tool #7 Non-Storm Water Discharges (EPA, 2007)

Addresses how wastewater and non-storm water discharges are handled.

To Protect Wetlands:

-Require regular septic system inspections (see Fig. 13).
- Require enhanced nutrient removal from on-site wastewater treatment systems.
- Actively enforce dumping restrictions in wetlands and their buffers.
- Consider alternative mosquito control methods that can minimize impacts on wetlands.
- Conduct illicit discharge surveys at outfalls to wetlands.

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Figure 13. Examples for Non-Storm Water Discharges (Lismore City Council, 2007).

3.8. Tool #8 Watershed Stewardship (EPA, 2007)

Increase awareness and understanding of watersheds and promote better stewardship of private lands.

To Protect Wetlands:

-Post signs to identify wetlands, buffers, and Contributing Drainage Area (CDA) boundaries.
-Incorporate wetlands into watershed education programs.
-Manage invasive wetland plants.
-Establish volunteer wetland monitoring and adoption programs (see Fig. 14).
-Encourage wetland landowner stewardship.
-Establish partnerships for funding and implementing wetland Projects.

Stewardship of water resources is an important goal for people in a community who care about the fate of their children and grand children.

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Figure 21. Volunteers with researchers on the watershed (Natural News Network, 2007).

4. Results

A reduction in the contamination emitted and drained by the rural or urban areas, improvements of water quality within the watershed, and the creation of a sustainable management program for the watershed can be achieved by the application of necessary 8 tools mentioned in this study. A significant and measurable improvement in water quality and industrial solid waste handling along with a reduction in emission-based contaminants to the atmosphere needs both government and public participation in the application of these 8 tools. An independent but government supported organization EPA in USA can achieve significant improvement in understanding and support for the projects aims and objectives regarding the watershed management and environmental pollution control in comparison with the non governmental, disjointed or politically affected organizations in Turkey.

5. Conclusions

Watersheds can be named as an integrated systems, consists of topography, weather, geology, and interrelationships of land-use, ecology and human habitation. The integrated nature of watersheds provides a strong rationale for using them as the basis for managing, restoring, and rehabilitating ecological systems. Eutrophication is an increase in chemical nutrients typically compounds containing nitrogen or phosphorus in an ecosystem. It mostly occurs in water. It causes lack of oxygen and severe reductions in water quality, fish, and other animal populations. Several Environmental problems including Eutrophication can easily be prevented by the application of necessary 8 tools mentioned in this study. Turkey has got legislations and regulations addressing industrial settlement, discharges, emissions and waste products, nevertheless there is no proper and effective practices of watershed management regarding the water pollution control. As a recommendation Turkey can set up a court of inquiry or institution which is completely independent of bureaucracy but supported by the government. Hence monitor the environmental problems and all necessary measurements can be taken with the support of legislations.

6. Literature Cited

Akkoyunlu A., (2003). “Evaluation of Eutrophication Process in Lake Iznik”. Fresenius Environmental Bulletin. Vol:12, No:12, pp: 801-807.

Alaska Dept. of Fish & Game, (2007). “Streambank Revegetation and Protection: A Guide for Alaska”, http://www.sf.adfg.state.ak.us/SARR/restoration/techniques/silt.cfm

Annis, Water Resources Institute, (2007). “Lower Grand Watershed Interactive Tool - Stormwater Management”, Grand Valley State University. http://www.gvsu.edu/wri/isc/index.cfm?id=5D222890-DC3E-FE05-6449A01A6C69980D .

Bricker, S.B., Clement, C.G., Pirhalla, D.E., Orlando, S.P. Farrow, D.R.G. 1999. National Estuarine Eutrophication Assessment Effects of Nutrient Enrichment in the Nation’s Estuaries, National Ocean Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), US Department of Commerce, 72 pp.

Corsi S. R., Walker J. F., Wang L., Horwatich J. A. and Bannerman R. T., (2005). “Effects of Best-Management Practices in Otter Creek in the Sheboygan River Priority Watershed, Wisconsin, 1990−2002”. U.S. Geological Survey, Virginia, USA.

EPA, Center for Watershed Protection, (2007). Adapting Watershed Tools to Protect Wetlands, Ellicott City, MD 21043, USA. http://www.cwp.org/wetlands/slideshows/article3.pdf

EPA, (2006). “Volunteer Estuary Monitoring: A Methods Manual, Chapter 10: Nutrients”. http://www.epa.gov/nep/monitor/documents/chap10.pdf

EU, 2000. Council Directive of 23 October 2000, Establishing a framework for community action in the field of water policy (2000/60/EC) Official J.Eur. Communities, L327/1, 22 Dec.

Lismore City Council, (2007). “The Sewage Treatment Process - South Lismore”, Lismore City, Goonellabah NSW 2480, Australia, http://www.lismore.nsw.gov.au/cmst/lcc002/view_doc.asp?id=3039&cat=47

Natural News Network, (2007). “You can be a Watershed Steward”. http://www.naturalnews.net/wordpress/index.php?s=ririvers

RAO K. H. V. D., KUMAR D. S., (2004). “Spatial Decision Support System for Watershed Management”. Water Resources Management. Kluwer Academic Publishers.18: 407–423.

Richardson, K., Jorgensen, B.B. 1996. Eutrophication: Definition, History and Effects (Chapter 1), In: Eutrophication in Coastal Marine Ecosystems, American Geophysics Union, Coastal and Estuarine Studies, Vol. 52, 1-19, Washington D.C.

Serra, T., Colomera, J., Zamorab, L., Amichb, R.M., Casamitjana, X. (2002). Seasonal development of a turbid hydrothermal lake plume and the effects on the fish distribution. Water Research, 36, 2753–2760.

Sir Francis Drake High School, (2008). “What Humans Are Doing Wrong Environmental Causes and Effects”. San Anselmo CA 94960, USA. http://drake.marin.k12.ca.us/stuwork/rockwater/Eutrophication/harm.html

Smith V.H. 2003. Eutrophication of Freshwater and Coastal Marine Ecosystems – A Global Problem, Environ. Sci. & Pollut. Res. 10(2):126-139.

TTGSWMC (Ten Towns Great Swamp Watershed Management Committee), (1997). “Great Swamp Watershed Management Plan”, F. X. Browne, Inc., Cedar Knolls, NJ, USA.

Thomann, R.V., Mueller, J.A., 1987. Principles of Surface Water Quality Modelling and Control, Harper Collins Publishers.


ISBN (Book)
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Eutrophication Environment Pollution Protection Tools Watershed Management



Title: Watershed Management, Eutrophication as an Environmental Problem and Protection Tools