Defining Nutrient and Biochemical Oxygen Demand Baselines for Tropical Rivers and Streams in São Paulo State (Brazil): A Comparison Between Reference and Impacted Sites
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- Cunha, D.G.F., Dodds, W.K. & Carmo Calijuri, M.. Environmental Management (2011) 48: 945. doi:10.1007/s00267-011-9739-8
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Determining reference concentrations in rivers and streams is an important tool for environmental management. Reference conditions for eutrophication-related water variables are unavailable for Brazilian freshwaters. We aimed to establish reference baselines for São Paulo State tropical rivers and streams for total phosphorus (TP) and nitrogen (TN), nitrogen-ammonia (NH4+) and Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) through the best professional judgment and the trisection methods. Data from 319 sites monitored by the São Paulo State Environmental Company (2005 to 2009) and from the 22 Water Resources Management Units in São Paulo State were assessed (N = 27,131). We verified that data from different management units dominated by similar land cover could be analyzed together (Analysis of Variance, P = 0.504). Cumulative frequency diagrams showed that industrialized management units were characterized by the worst water quality (e.g. average TP of 0.51 mg/L), followed by agricultural watersheds. TN and NH4+ were associated with urban percentages and population density (Spearman Rank Correlation Test, P < 0.05). Best professional judgment and trisection (median of lower third of all sites) methods for determining reference concentrations showed agreement: 0.03 & 0.04 mg/L (TP), 0.31 & 0.34 mg/L (TN), 0.06 & 0.10 mg-N/L (NH4+) and 2 & 2 mg/L (BOD), respectively. Our reference concentrations were similar to TP and TN reference values proposed for temperate water bodies. These baselines can help with water management in São Paulo State, as well as providing some of the first such information for tropical ecosystems.