, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp 433-444

The Trophic Diatom Index: a new index for monitoring eutrophication in rivers

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A index for monitoring the trophic status of rivers based on diatom composition (‚trophic diatom index’, TDI) has been developed, in response to the National Rivers Authority (England & Wales)'s needs under the terms of the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive of the European Community. The index is based on a suite of 86 taxa selected both for their indicator value and ease of identification. When tested on a dataset from 70 sites free of significant organic pollution, this index was more highly correlated with aqueous P concentrations than previous diatom indices. However, where there was heavy organic pollution, it was difficult to separate the effects of eutrophication from other effects. For this reason, the value of TDI is supplemented by an indication of the proportion of the sample that is composed of taxa tolerant to organic pollution.

The index was tested on the R. Browney, N-E. England, above and below a major sewage discharge. TDI values indicated that the effect of inorganic nutrients on the river downstream of the discharge was slight as the river was already nutrient-rich, but there was a large increase in the proportion of organic pollution-tolerant taxa. This indicates that the river was already so eutrophic upstream of the discharge that tertiary treatment to remove P would not be effective unless other aspects of the discharge were also improved.