, Volume 136, Issue 1-4, pp 189-206

Effects of Urban Sewage on Dissolved Oxygen, Dissolved Inorganic and Organic Carbon, and Electrical Conductivity of Small Streams along a Gradient of Urbanization in the Piracicaba River Basin

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In Brazil most of the urban sewage is dumped without treatment into rivers. Because of this, it is extremely important to evaluate the consequences of organic matter rich sewage on the structure and functioning of river ecosystems. In this study we investigated the effects of urban sewage on the dissolved oxygen (O2), dissolved inorganic (DIC) and organic carbon (DOC), and electrical conductivity (EC) in 10 small streams of the Piracicaba River basin, southeast region of Brazil. In the Piracicaba River basin, which is one of the most developed regions of the country, only 16% of the total sewage load generated is treated. These streams were classified into two groups, one with heavy influence of urban sewage and another with less influence. Both concentrations and seasonal variability were distinct between the two groups. The streams that received sewage effluent had a combination of low O2 with high DIC, DOC, and EC. In the polluted streams, concentrations of dissolved carbon forms and EC were higher and O2 concentration lower during the low water period. In the less polluted streams seasonal variations in concentrations were small. We also investigated the efficiency of a sewage treatment plant installed two years ago in the catchment of one of these streams. It was observed an increase in the O2 concentration after the beginning of the treatment, and a decrease of DIC and DOC concentrations especially during the low water period. However, no significant change was observed in the EC, suggesting that the concentrations of major ions is still unaltered, and that a secondary treatment is necessary in order to reduce ion load into the stream.