Land Use Versus Stream Water Health – Literature review Example

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The paper "Land Use Versus Stream Water Health" is a great example of a literature review on environmental studies. There are currently major concerns about the heightened degradation of river water health conditions (Kathleen 2011). Various studies have concluded that the health condition of river water is directly or indirectly affected by the human activities happening within a particular river’ s watershed (Allan 2004). This study focuses on examining the linkage between the human land-use practices and the health condition dynamics of nearby river water; examine these linkages and the possibility of restoring the original health status of river water.

The study is a literature review of the work of Allan (2004) on the same subject. Allan (2004) argues that despite the public’ s recognition of the occurrence of adverse effects on water bodies, there have been ineffective strategies to counter this situation. Instead the issue in question is taken lightly while deterioration of these waters gains momentum. He however suggests that there is still some haziness in the reality of the effect of various contamination pathways. The analysis of Allan’ s (2004) arguments is looked into hereunder. It is widely accepted that various land-use practices including agricultural activities (Allan 2004; Nä reaho et al.

2006; Kathleen 2011) mining, road works and urbanization; and deforestation among others introduce adverse effects on the condition and/or the quality of river water. The aspects of river water that are of ultimate importance and that are affected include a reduction in the flow rates of water and poisoning or intoxicating of water. The latter automatically results in unhealthy water for domestic use and for recreation by humans, and for supporting the life of aquatic animals and plants (Kathleen 2011).

The land-use practices that affect the health status of stream water are mostly those related to agriculture where all agricultural activities taking place within a particular stream’ s watershed (Nä reaho et al. 2006) are given ultimate significance in this context. Mining activities especially within such a watershed may also result in water contamination when harmful elements such as heavy metals, ammonia, nitrogen, and phosphorus among others. The entire process of river or stream water contamination is gradual and complex in the sense that it is well understood by understanding the various pathways of different contaminants including their sources (Allan 2004).

A typical farmer for example may not know the potential harm he or she may be causing to the health of the water in a stream that is one kilometer away but within the watershed (Nä reaho et al. 2006). All in all, the whole process involves the movement of these contaminants from their initiation site to the river through surface runoffs or through infiltration and hence underground transportation (through flow). This means that the rate of contamination of a stream or a river is directly proportional to the watershed’ s gradient towards the river.

The various pathways of contaminants are described below which expose the effects of some of the activities that are insensitively conducted by humans. VARIOUS CONTAMINANTS Nitrates and Other Salts Nitrogen is a highly important element and a requirement for the nutrition of both plants and animals including humans and thus it is highly considered in the process of enriching the soil matter in agriculture and also in the manufacture of human foods. In agriculture it is applied in the form of fertilizers.

Nitrogen may also drain from domestic animals’ septic tanks and/or manure (Kathleen 2011). Many nitrogenous compounds used are highly soluble salts and therefore significant amounts of nitrogen are deposited in rivers through surface runoff (Nä reaho et al. 2006). The result is the accumulation of nitrogenous salts in rivers. These excesses of nitrogen become poisonous on use/intake and have been known to cause methemoglobinemia in infants (Nä reaho et al. 2006). Excesses of nitrogen in water also cause a high growth of aquatic plants which occupies a large amount of the living space of aquatic animals.

References

Allan, J. D. 2004. Landscapes and Riverscapes: The influence of land-use on stream ecosystems. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 35(1): 257-284.

Brierley, G.J., and Fryirs, K.A., 2005. Geomorphology and river management - applications of the River Styles framework. Carlton, VIC.: Blackwell Publishing.

Daughton, C.G., ed. 2011. Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products (PPCPs) as Environmental Pollutants: Pollution from Personal Actions, Activities, and Behaviours. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 3-12.

Davies, P., Harris J. J., et al., 2008. Sustainable rivers audit: river health check. A Report on the Ecological Health of Rivers in the Murray–Darling Basin 2004-2007, SRA Report 1. 11-33.

Earth Tech. 2007. Sydney Metropolitan CMA Waterways Health Strategy. Earth Tech Pty. Ltd. for Sydney Metropolitan CMA, Sydney, NSW. 125-128.

Emily, S.B., and Margaret, A.P. 2007. Restoring streams in an urbanizing world. A Journal of Freshwater Biology, 52(4): 738-751.

Kathleen, H.B., 2011. Water resource protection in Australia: Links between land use and river health with a focus on stubble farming systems. Journal of Hydrology, 403(1-2), 176-183.

Meng, W., Zhang, N. et al., 2009. Integrated assessment of river health based on water quality, aquatic life, and physical habitat. Journal of Environmental Sciences 21, 1017–1027.

Näreaho, T., Jormola, J. et al., 2006. Environmental maintenance of cleaned ditches in agricultural areas. (In Finnish). The Finnish Environment. Finnish Environment Institute, Helsinki. 52, 61-63.

Stanton, P., 2007. Rivertown. Rethinking urban rivers, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.

Stoddard, J. L., Larsen, D. P. et al. 2006. Setting expectations for the ecological condition of streams: the concept of reference conditions. Ecological Applications 16: 1267–1276.

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