Long-term changes in microbial water quality indicators in a hydro-power plant reservoir: The role of natural factors and socio-economic changes

Abstract

Long-term changes, from 1984 to 2010, in the indicators of microbial pollution (total viable count, coliforms, Escherichia coli, enterococci, and Clostridium perfringens) are analysed in the Riga Hydropower Plant Reservoir, an essential source of drinking water for Riga, the capital of Latvia. Counts in microbial indicators fluctuated seasonally and were related to physicochemical parameters (nitrogen compounds, turbidity, temperature, and pH). The changes in microbial pollution were brought about by two major socio-economic developments. Firstly, Latvia’s independence from the USSR in 1991 which facilitated a distinct reduction in most microorganism counts due to a sharp decline in industrial and agricultural production. This resulted in a significant drop in point and nonpoint pollution in the river basin. A further development was Latvia joining the European Union in 2004. The corresponding focus on water management, including wastewater treatment, was a major priority of environmental investment and lead to improvements in microbial water quality.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank the water company “Rīgas ūdens” for monitoring data. We are grateful to the two anonymous reviewers for their helpful input, useful comments and suggestions. The research of this paper was financially suppored by the Grant No. LV-UA/2017/5 and University of Latvia Grant No. AAp2016/B041//Zd2016/AZ03.

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Spriņġe, G., Bērtiņš, M., Gnatyshyna, L. et al. Long-term changes in microbial water quality indicators in a hydro-power plant reservoir: The role of natural factors and socio-economic changes. Ambio (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-020-01470-1

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Keywords

  • Environmental policy
  • Microbial indicators
  • Physicochemical parameters
  • Reservoir
  • Seasonal changes