Environmental effects of dredging on sediment nutrients, carbon and granulometry in a tropical estuary

  • S. Nayar
  • D. J. Miller
  • A. Hunt
  • B. P. L. Goh
  • L. M. Chou
Article

Abstract

This monitoring study encompassed a period prior to dredging, during dredging and post dredging between July 1999 to June 2000 in Ponggol estuary located along the northeastern coast of Singapore. Mean concentrations of sediment nutrients in mg ⋅ Kg−1 (± standard error of means) prior to dredging, during dredging and post dredging were 9.75 ± 4.24, 8.18 ± 4.29 and 11.46 ± 4.74 for ammonium, 0.08 ± 0.05, 0.06 ± 0.02 and 0.09 ± 0.01 for nitrite, 0.04 ± 0.04, 0.11 ± 0.17 and 0.25 ± 0.30 for nitrate, 4.83 ± 3.48, 0.77 ± 0.48 and 8.33 ± 9.73 for phosphate respectively. Pre dredge, dredge and post dredge levels of total carbon (TC) were 18.5 ± 3.7, 20.2 ± 3.5 and 34.6 ± 12.0, of total organic carbon (TOC) were 10.5 ± 2.9, 19.5 ± 3.6 and 34.6 ± 12.0 and of total inorganic carbon (TIC) were 7.9 ± 1.0, 0.7 ± 0.4 and non detectable in the sediments, respectively. Both, sediment nutrients and carbon registered lower concentrations with onset of dredging, with the exception of nitrate and TOC. A shift in sedimentary carbon from inorganic carbon to organic carbon was also observed with the onset of the dredging activities when the organically enriched historically contaminated layer was exposed. Sediment granulometry showed that the sediments in the estuary were predominantly silt and clay prior to dredging, which changed to sand with onset of dredging. Silt load in the sediments was highest post-dredge. Sediment nutrients and sediment organic carbon were observed to associate with the finer fractions (silt and clay) of sediments. Finer fractions of sediments get resuspended during a dredging event and are dispersed spatially as the result of tides and water movements. Prior to this study, the potential for nutrient release and sediment granulometry due to dredging have been suggested, but there have been few studies of it, especially in the tropics. The baseline information gathered from this study could be used to work out effective management strategies to protect similar tropical ecosystems elsewhere, should there be no other alternative to dredging.

Keywords

Dredging Nutrients Organic carbon Ponggol estuary Pollution Resuspension Inorganic carbon Sediment grain size Sediment surface area 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Nayar
    • 1
  • D. J. Miller
    • 2
  • A. Hunt
    • 3
  • B. P. L. Goh
    • 4
  • L. M. Chou
    • 5
  1. 1.South Australian Research and Development Institute - Aquatic SciencesWest BeachAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Environment and HeritageCoast and Marine Conservation BranchKeswickAustralia
  3. 3.School of Biological SciencesUniversity of PlymouthPlymouthUK
  4. 4.Natural Sciences Academic Group, National Institute of EducationNanyang Technological UniversitySingaporeSingapore
  5. 5.Marine Biology Laboratory, Department of Biological SciencesNational University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore

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