What is eutrophication?
Enrichment of water by nutrient salts leading to structural changes of the ecosystem like large production of aquatic plants and algae, a decrease of fish species, deterioration of the quality of water, etc. is called eutrophication. Below we have discussed the types of eutrophication.
Types of eutrophication
● Cultural eutrophication
Cultural eutrophication is a process which accelerates natural eutrophication as a result of human activity. Due to the clearing of building and land in various cities and towns, land runoff is enhanced and nutrients like nitrates and phosphates are supplied to rivers, lakes and the bays. Additional nutrients are also imparted by golf courses, farms, fertilizers, treatment plants, etc.
● Natural eutrophication
Eutrophication is usually caused by human activities but it can also be a natural process, mostly in lakes. For example, in the lakes of temperate grassland occurrence of eutrophy can be seen. Natural eutrophication process is very slow and depends on the geological time scale whereas anthropogenic eutrophication does not.
- Fertilizers such as phosphates and nitrates
Eutrophication is mostly caused by human activity by depending on the use of fertilizers such as phosphate and nitrate. Using fertilizers on golf courses lawns etc. causes accumulation of nitrate and phosphate nutrients. When it rains, these nutrients are washed by surface runoff into oceans, rivers, and lakes. Algae and other aquatic plants feed on it and show an increase in photosynthesis activity.
- Direct industrial waste in water bodies
In some countries, industrial wastewater is directly discharged into water bodies such as oceans, rivers, and lakes. As a result, it causes the excess accumulation of nutrients, which results in eutrophication.
● Endangers fish
One of the main features of eutrophication is the increase in growth of minute floating like photosynthetic bacteria, algae to form dense floating plant mats. Whenever this happens on a water body, fishing becomes imperil as it becomes difficult to set the fishing nets and floating plants will limit the mobility of the boat.
● Increase in particulate substances
The abundance of particulate substances such as phytoplankton, bacteria, debris, zooplankton, and fungi which determine colouration and turbidity of the water.
● Increase in inorganic chemicals
The abundance of inorganic chemicals like ammonia, hydrogen sulphide, nitrites, etc. present in the drinking water treatment plants forms nitrosamines which are harmful substances.
Measures to control eutrophication
- Improving the purification process of wastewater treatment plants
- implementing filter ecosystems to separate phosphorus and nitrogen present in the run-off water.
- Reducing phosphorous content in detergents.
- Installation of a tertiary treatment system to decrease the concentration of nutrients.
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