The Use of Stream Sediments to Infer Water Quality on a Stream in Northwestern Ohio

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A primary sewage treatment plant discharges its effluents into Butler Ditch, Oak Openings, Lucas County, Ohio. A marsh habitat near the discharge outlet, high turbidity, sludge covering the stream bed and pungent odor gave reason to believe that the effluent from the sewage treatment plant contaminated the ditch. Water and stream sediment samples were collected from 24 sample locations over a 2 mile stretch downstream from the discharge outlet of the sewage treatment plant and analyzed for chemical composition. At the time of sample collection, the sewage treatment plant had discharged its effluents into the ditch for a period of 2 years. The water and the —80 mesh fraction of the sediment samples were analyzed for mineral content, the chemical components, alkalinity, hardness, total dissolved solids, specific conductance, pH, cation exhange capacity and mineralogy of the sediments. The tests showed that there was a cutoff point 450 ft downstream from the effluent outlet, where most of the element concentrations dropped abruptly, except sedimentary iron, which increased. Heavy vegetation retarded the flow of water, resulting in a more anaerobic environment upstream. Precipitation of many ions increased downstream probably as a result of increased oxygenation of the water. The use of sediment chemistry proved advantageous to infer the long term quality of the stream water.


Author Institution: International Minerals and Chemical Corporation



The Ohio Journal of Science. v81, n5-6 (September-November, 1981), 247-252