Water-quality and ecosystem impacts of recreation in streams: Monitoring and management

Butler, Barry, Pearson, Richard G., and Birtles, R. Alastair (2021) Water-quality and ecosystem impacts of recreation in streams: Monitoring and management. Environmental Challenges, 5. 100328.

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Abstract

There is limited published information on the impact of bathing on stream water quality and ecology, except on human pathogens and health. We investigated the relationships between environmental quality of streams and recreational activity at five sites in the Australian Wet Tropics. The streams normally had very low concentrations of nutrients and suspended solids (TSS), but concentrations fluctuated widely during spates, thereby causing difficulties in discriminating impacts. Daily bathing activity disturbed sediments causing an increase in TSS and turbidity, which greatly exceeded national guidelines for maintenance of aesthetic qualities. TSS returned to background levels overnight as bathing areas were flushed clean. Total nitrogen and phosphate concentrations also increased with bather numbers, and phosphate concentrations were directly proportional to bather density. Faecal coliform concentrations were elevated by bathers at one site. Ecological effects of bathers were equivocal and greater on algal than invertebrate assemblages. Water quality degradation, although transient, suggested that some sites were close to their carrying capacity for bathers. Our results show that water quality may vary with local conditions and that cost-effective monitoring and management require development of cause-effect models of water quality processes for each stream site.

Item ID: 72831
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2667-0100
Keywords: Bathing, Carrying capacity, Impact, Recreation and tourism, Stream, Water quality
Date Deposited: 10 May 2022 01:58
Downloads: Total: 125
Last 12 Months: 68
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