Science / Environmental Chemistry

Environmental Chemistry

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Autor:  anton  09 March 2011
Tags:  Environmental,  Chemistry
Words: 620   |   Pages: 3
Views: 698

Environmental Chemistry: Water testing in Bouregreg Valley

Nowadays we are more and more concerned of environmental issues and especially the ones about water since experts have remarked that wetland regions are disappearing (50% reduction). Wetland regions are very important because they help preserve different wildlife species and also can be considered important indicators of the health of the “blue planet”.

One of the most interesting wetland regions is the Bouregreg one that is close to Rabat. This region is experiencing a quick urbanisation and an increase in its services for the tourist industry, which are putting pressure on the remaining natural habitats. This region is rich in wildlife, featuring a great diversity of reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates and birds. Even the fact that this region is a very important natural resource for our country, it is suffering from the huge number of human activities that are changing the natural environment, whether intentional or unintentional.

A small analysis of the quality of water will be helpful to identify the impact it has on the region and the problems faced there. For the water analysis there were different samples taken from different locations: canals, drainage ditches, and stagnant pools where water was tested for a range of parameters:

- pH

- dissolved oxygen

- nitrate ion concentration

- phosphate ion concentration

- turbidity

“The type of testing that were carried out varied from simple test strip methods for pH and nitrate ion concentration to electronic sensing (for dissolved oxygen and turbidity, for example), reflectometric reading of test strip colours (for nitrate and phosphate ion concentration), and the use of specific ion electrodes (for nitrate ion concentration).”

A major focus was to assess whether fertilisers were trickling from the nearest agricultural zones into the protected area. Such leaching would result in eutrophication and its consequent impacts on the ecology of this environmentally sensitive area. One aspect of the studies that has produced revealing results on statistical analysis was the testing of nitrate levels. The aim of this analysis was to see if there was any relationship between nitrate concentrations and agricultural activity at different sites. “The test was used to see if there was any correlation between the distance from the nearest arable land and the nitrate content of the water sample. The results showed no apparent correlation.”

The fact that there was no apparent correlation led to consider the different nature of the sample sites. Lakefront sites, part of the large body of water, were likely to have very low nitrate levels through dilution when compared drainage ditches. Lakefront samples were therefore discounted and the other sites were then examined more closely. A pattern did emerge when the origins of the water in the channels and ponds within the reserve were analysed. The water in some sites had its origin within the boundaries of the reserve, while other channels flow in, bringing water that has drained land outside the reserve boundaries. When the results were interpreted with this added information, it appeared that all the sites that had measurable nitrate ion concentrations contained water originating from outside the reserve. On the other hand, water bodies and channels showed no measurable concentrations of nitrate. (www.bouregreg.com)

The discovery of a statistically significant difference between the two types of site was important for two reasons. This means that there are very strict regulations on the use of fertilisers by arable farmers within the reserve, whereas such restrictions do not apply to farmers outside the reserve. The local farmers seem to abide by these regulations.

Site number

(water from sources inside Les Grangettes) Nitrate content

(mg/dm3) Site number

(water flowing in from outside sources) Nitrate content

(mg/dm3)

5 0 2 0

6 0 4 0

11 0 9 8

12 0 10 9

18 0 13 11

19 0 14 9

20 0 17 0

23 9

24 9

Total number of sites 7 Total number of sites 9

Table 1: Nitrate content at different types of site within region



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