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Water Quality: Management, Sanitation and Investigation

Limnological Fundamentals

Limnochemistry, Aquatic Biology: Self cleaning

The quality of water in lakes and reservoirs is not only determined by the properties of water flowing into them but also by processes of material decomposition and energy conversion in the lake itself. These natural self-cleaning processes can be supported and encouraged by intervening into the ecosystem.

 The basic principles for self-cleaning of waters are as follows:

Graphic generally example

Graphic example of bacteria metabolism

The structure of the food web has a decisive influence on water quality. Quality is especially determined by availability of plant nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus compounds), since these control the growth of harmful phytoplanktons (usually single celled algae and cyanobacteria). Phytoplanktons can considerable reduce the quality of untreated water (smell, taste, toxic algae) and can greatly impede the treatment of water in reservoirs. Phytoplankton is the primary producer of basic nutrients for zooplankters, which is eaten by other consumers (fish, predators on zooplanktons). The food cycle through the levels of organism is closed by bacteria which mineralise the biomass into nutrients (Figure, Graphic example).


© | Dipl.-Biol. Hartmut Willmitzer |  31.07. 2000 | Copyright