QUOTE FOR THE DAY • "If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn't be called research, would it?" • Albert Einstein • "I sometimes go to my own little world, but that's okay, they know me there." • - Joel Hodgson
WATER QUALITY WHAT FACTORS DOES THE STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA USE TO DETERMINE THE QUALITY OF SURFACE WATERS?
WATER QUALITY • WHAT FACTORS DOES THE STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA USE TO DETERMINE THE QUALITY OF SURFACE WATERS? • SEDIMENT • FECAL COLIFORM BACTERIA • NUTRIENTS • OXYGEN-CONSUMING WASTES • TOXIC SUBSTANCES • COLOR
SEDIMENT: DIRT SWEPT INTO A STREAM OR LAKE DUE TO FLOODS OR EROSION. SEDIMENT ENTERS A STREAM WHEN RAINS OCCUR. HOW MUCH SEDIMENT ENTERS THE STREAM DEPENDS ON THE VELOCITY OF THE RUN OFF AND THE CONDITION OF THE SOIL. A STREAM HAS ONLY A FINITE CAPACTIY TO CARRY SEDIMENT. AS MORE SEDIMENT ENTERS THE STREAM, SOME WILL SETTLE OUT. AS THE FLOW SLOWS, SEDIMENT WILL SETTLE OUT.
AS STREAMS ENTER LAKES, THE FLOW SLOWS. OVER TIME, IF A SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF SEDIMENT ENTERS THE STREAM, THE LAKE CAN FILL WITH SEDIMENT. BUILDING ALONG STREAMS CAN CONTRIBUTE TO SEDIMENT BUILDUP - ANYTHING THAT REMOVES PROTECTIVE VEGETATION. URBAN AREAS CONTRIBUTE TO SEDIMENT, AS WATER FLOWS VERY RAPIDLY OFF PAVED AREAS.
WHEN HIGH SEDIMENT CONCENTRATIONS ARE PRESENT FOR LONG PERIODS OF TIME, SUSPENDED SEDIMENTS CAN CLOG THE GILLS OF FISH. NORTH CAROLINA DOES NOT HAVE A NUMERIC WATER QUALITY STANDARD FOR SEDIMENT, BUT THE FEDERAL STANDARD IS AS FOLLOWS: 30 mg/l FOR TOTAL SUSPENDED SOLIDS 20 mg/l FOR HIGH QUALITY WATERS SUCH AS TROUT STREAMS OR PRIMARY NURSERY AREAS
NORTH CAROLINA RECOMMENDS CERTAIN PRACTICES RELATING TO STREAM BOUNDARIES
MANAGEMENT PROGRAM: STREAMBED - WOODY DEBRIS SLOWS VELOCITY OF WATER AND IMPROVES HABITAT ZONE 1 - UNDISTURBED FOREST ZONE 2 - MANAGED FOREST ZONE 3 - GRASS ZONE 4 - URBAN/SURBURBAN DEVELOPED OR FARMLAND
FECAL COLIFORM BACTERIA: THEY ARE EXCRETED IN THE SOLID WASTE OF HUMANS AND OTHER MAMMALS. THEY ARE NOT DANGEROUS THEMSELVES, BUT THEY ARE AN INDICATOR OF HOW MUCH FECAL MATTER HAS ENTERED A STREAM OR LAKE. BACTERIA ASSOCIATED WITH FECAL COLIFORM BACTERIA CAN CAUSE DIARRHEA, DYSENTERY, CHOLERA, AND TYPHOID FEVER IN HUMANS. SOME BACTERIA CAN CAUSE INFECTIONS IN OPEN WOUNDS.
HIGH LEVELS OF FECAL COLIFORM CAN INDICATE UNACCEPTABLY HIGH LEVELS OF SEWAGE OR ANIMAL WASTES. THIS WOULD MAKE THE WATER UNSAFE FOR DRINKING, HUMAN CONTACT (SWIMMING), OR SHELLFISH HARVESTING. REDUCING FECAL COLIFORM BACTERIA REQUIRES THE USE OF CHLORINE OR OTHER DISINFECTANT CHEMICALS. THESE CHEMICALS WOULD ALSO KILL OTHER ORGANISMS.
ONE COW PRODUCES APPROXIMATELY 5.4 BILLION FECAL COLIFORM BACTERIA PER DAY. FENCING SHOULD BE USED TO KEEP ANIMALS AWAY FROM STREAMS. THE NORTH CAROLINA FECAL COLIFORM STANDARD FOR FRESHWATER IS 200 COLONIES PER 100 ml BASED ON FIVE CONSECUTIVE SAMPLES TAKEN DURING A 30 DAY PERIOD. OTHER BACTERIA THAT ARE ESPECIALLY DANGEROUS ARE GIARDIA, CRYPTOSPORIDIUM, SHIGELLA, AND CHOLERA..
Giardiasis (GEE-are-DYE-uh-sis) is a diarrheal illness caused by Giardia intestinalis (also known as Giardia lamblia), a one-celled, microscopic parasite that lives in the intestine of people and animals. The parasite is passed in the stool of an infected person or animal. The parasite is protected by an outer shell that allows it to survive outside the body and in the environment for long periods of time. During the past 2 decades, Giardia has become recognized as one of the most common causes of waterborne disease (drinking and recreational) in humans in the United States. The parasite is found in every region of the United States and throughout the world.
Cryptosporidiosis (krip-toe-spo-rid-e-o-sis), is a diarrheal disease caused by a microscopic parasite, Cryptosporidium parvum. It can live in the intestine of humans and animals and is passed in the stool of an infected person or animal. Both the disease and the parasite are also known as "Crypto." The parasite is protected by an outer shell that allows it to survive outside the body for long periods of time and makes it very resistant to chlorine disinfection. During the past two decades, Crypto has become recognized as one of the most common causes of waterborne disease (drinking and recreational) in humans in the United States. The parasite is found in every region of the United States and throughout the world.
Shigella are Gram-negative, nonmotile, nonsporeforming rod-shaped bacteria. The illness caused by Shigella (shigellosis) accounts for less than 10% of the reported outbreaks of foodborne illness in this country. Shigella rarely occurs in animals; principally a disease of humans except other primates such as monkeys and chimpanzees. The organism is frequently found in water polluted with human feces.
AS FEW AS 10 TO 100 CELLS CAN CAUSE ILLNESS. YET, IT IS EASILY KILLED BY HEAT OF DISENFECTANT.
What is cholera? Cholera is an acute, diarrheal illness caused by infection of the intestine with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. The infection is often mild or without symptoms, but sometimes it can be severe. Approximately one in 20 infected persons has severe disease characterized by profuse watery diarrhea, vomiting, and leg cramps. In these persons, rapid loss of body fluids leads to dehydration and shock. Without treatment, death can occur within hours.
Since 1961, V. cholerae has spread from Indonesia through most of Asia into Eastern Europe and Africa, and from North Africa to the Iberian Peninsula. In 1991, an extensive epidemic began in Peru and spread to neighboring countries in the Western Hemisphere. In 2001, nearly 185,000 cases from 58 countries were reported to the WHO.
WHY DO WE TEST FOR FECAL COLIFORM BACTERIA RATHER THAN THE OTHER ORGANISMS THAT ARE MUCH MORE DANGEROUS? FECAL COLIFORM BACTERIA ARE VERY EASY TO DETECT. TESTS ARE QUICK. THEY ARE AN INDICATOR OF RAW SEWAGE IN WATER.
IN RURAL AREAS, WHERE SEWAGE TREATMENT PLANTS ARE NOT AVAILABLE, SEPTIC TANKS ARE USED.
MANY PEOPLE DO NOT MAINTAIN THEIR SEPTIC TANKS PROPERLY. VIRGINIA HAS ADOPTED AN ORDANANCE REQUIRING ALL SPETIC TANKS TO BE PUMPED AT LEAST ONCE EVERY FIVE YEARS. NORTH CAROLINA HAS NO SUCH ORDINANCE. NORTH CAROLINA DOES HAVE AN ANIMAL WASTE MANAGEMENT PLAN.
NUTRIENTS: REFERS TO THE ELEMENTS NITROGEN AND PHOSPHORUS, WHICH ARE COMMON COMPONENTS OF FERTILIZERS, ANIMAL AND HUMAN WASTES, VEGATATION, AND SOME INDUSTRIAL PROCESSES. NUTRIENTS CAN COME FROM BOTH POINT AND NONPOINT SOURCES. POINT SOURCE - WATER DISCHARGED FROM A SINGLE SOURCE SUCH AS DISCHARGE FROM A FACTORY.
NONPOINT SOURCE: WATER RUNNING OFF A LARGE AREA SUCH AS STORM WATER FROM A DOWNTOWN AREA, SUBDIVISION, OR FARM FIELDS. NUTRIENTS IN SMALL AMOUNTS ARE NECESSARY FOR AQUATIC LIFE. IN LARGE AMOUNTS, THEY CAN CAUSE ALGAL BLOOMS AND PLANT GROWTH. THROUGH RESPIRATION AND DECOMPOSITION, THEY CAN DEPLETE WATER OF OXYGEN AND CAUSE SERIOUS WATER QUALITY PROBLEMS.
NORTH CAROLINA MEASURES CHLOROPHYL a AS AN INDICATOR OF ALGAL BIOMASS. THE STANDARD FOR LAKES, RESERVOIRS AND SLOW MOVING RIVERS IS 40 ug/l. ON JANUARY 1988, NC PASSED A LAW LIMITING PHOSPHATE IN HOUSEHOLD LAUNDRY DETERGENT TO 0.5 %. THIS REDUCED THE PHOSPHATE BEING DISCHARGED BY WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANTS BY 33%
OXYGEN CONSUMING WASTES: WASTES FROM WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANTS, WASTES FROM AGRICULTURE, DEAD PLANTS AND LEAVES. BACTERIAL DECOMPOSITION OF THESE MATERIALS CAN QUICKLY DEPLETE OXYGEN FROM LAKES AND SLOW MOVING STREAMS. THE DISSOLVED OXYGEN STANDARD FOR MOST WATERS IN NC IS 5.0 mg/l. FOR TROUT STREAMS, IT IS 6.0 mg/l.
TOXIC SUBSTANCES: ANY SUBSTANCE THAT HAS THE POTENTIAL TO CAUSE DEATH, DISEASE, BEHAVIORAL ABNORMALITIES, CANCER, GENETIC MUTATIONS, OR PHYSICAL DEFORMATIES. THESE INCLUDE: CHLORINE AMMONIA HYDROCARBONS AND PESTICIDES HEAVY METALS pH
pH - A MEASURE OF THE AMOUNT OF ACID OR BASE IN WATER. pH OF 7 - PURE WATER pH LESS THAN 7 - ACID - THE LOWER THE NUMBER, THE MORE ACID pH GREATER THAN 7 - BASE - THE HIGHER THE NUMBER, THE MORE BASE ACID CAN COME FROM COMBUSTION OF FOSSIL FUELS OR FROM INDUSTRY.
HEAVY METALS - EXAMPLES INCLUDE LEAD AND MERCURY. CAN WORK THEIR WAY UP THE FOOD CHAIN SOURCES INCLUDE INDUSTRY AND COMBUSTION OF FOSSIL FUELS, ESPECIALLY COAL