, Volume 198, Issue 1-4, pp 359-371
Date: 28 Sep 2008

Effect of Multiple Stressors on Water Quality and Macroinvertebrate Assemblages in an Effluent-Dominated Stream

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Abstract

Lura stream flows in the populated and industrialized conurbation North of Milan, Italy. The area suffers a sprawling urbanization which is leading to major alterations in water quality, hydrology and morphology of streams. These water bodies are known as effluent-dominated streams, because most of the baseflow is given by Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) discharges. In this paper, a 5 year long assessment of Lura stream is presented and the collected data is discussed to understand overall ecological quality. Multivariate analysis carried out on macroinvertebrate assemblages and environmental variables suggests that invertebrate communities suffer severe alteration both upstream and downstream WWTP discharges. Results indicate that the high polluting loads coming from WWTP discharges affect seriously the stream water quality, but the most important cause of impairment are pulse perturbations related to the modified hydrology, causing droughts and flash floods, and to the spills of untreated sewage from overflows during rain events.