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The water quality of the River Thames at a rural site downstream of Oxford

You are viewing information about the paper The water quality of the River Thames at a rural site downstream of Oxford.

Journal: Sci Total Environ 2000/06/10
Published: 2000
Authors: Neal, C.;Williams, R. J.;Neal, M.;Bhardwaj, L. C.;Wickham, H.;Harrow, M.;Hill, L. K.
Address: Institute of Hydrology, Wallingford, Oxon, UK.

Water quality information is presented for the River Thames 34 km downstream of the market town of Oxford in Oxfordshire to provide an overview of the hydrochemical functioning of a major agriculturally impacted river entering the North Sea. The data, which cover the period from the spring of 1997 to the spring of 1999, relate to three types of data. These types are: (1) weekly spot sampling for determination of major, minor and trace elements, pH, alkalinity and herbicides; (2) tri-weekly spot sampling for pH, alkalinity and dissolved silicon; and (3) continuous measurements of pH and dissolved oxygen. Calcium and bicarbonate provide, respectively, the dominant cation and anion in solution and their compositions remain relatively constant through time, irrespective of flow levels. In contrast, many determinands show seasonally related fluctuations. Concentrations for most of the major anions, sodium, potassium as well as soluble reactive phosphorus and several soluble trace elements such as boron, antimony, arsenic and molybdenum decrease as flow increases. A reverse pattern is observed for nitrate, some herbicides and trace elements associated with particulate phases: concentrations increase with increasing flow. These patterns reflect the influence of: (1) a calcium carbonate rich groundwater system which provides the main stream flow component; (2) dilution of point source pollutant inputs associated with sewage and possibly light industry at high flows for several major, nutrient and trace elements; (3) enhanced nitrate and herbicide runoff from agricultural land at high flows; (4) enhanced microparticulate trace metal levels associated with increased suspended sediment loads at high flows; and (5) biological processes which affect pH, dissolved silicon, dissolved carbon dioxide and dissolved oxygen levels. An examination of soluble reactive phosphorus (SRP) and boron relationships reveals a reduction in concentrations for SRP associated possibly with phosphorus removal from a major sewage treatment works on an upstream tributary of the Thames, the Thame.

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