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Mining and urban impacts on semi-arid freshwater aquatic systems: the example of Mount Isa, Queensland

Taylor, M.P. and Mackay, A.K. and Kuypers, T. and Hudson-Edwards, Karen A. (2009) Mining and urban impacts on semi-arid freshwater aquatic systems: the example of Mount Isa, Queensland. Journal of Environmental Monitoring 11 , pp. 977-986. ISSN 1464-0325.

Full text not available from this repository.
Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1039/b819026g

Abstract

This paper examines the environmental risk and impact of trace metals affecting river water and sediment in and around Mount Isa, Queensland, Australia. Bacterial indicator densities are also analysed throughout the catchment to assess the impacts and the potential hazards arising from agricultural activities, sewage treatment plant releases and urban runoff. The area is drained by the ephemeral Leichhardt River, which bisects Mount Isa City and the major Pb, Zn, Cu and Ag Mount Isa Mine. Runoff is captured downstream in Lake Moondarra, with the water being used following natural filtration via a lagoon-reed bed system for potable purposes by the residents of Mount Isa City. During the dry season, the channel is characterised by numerous pools that act as storage zones for sediment and water-soluble metals as well as urban and agriculturally derived nutrients and pathogens. Our results show that sediment and water quality within the Leichhardt River adjacent to and downstream of the mine frequently exceed Australian government sediment guidelines with average values of Cu, Pb and Zn found adjacent to the footprint of the mine being 1550, 510 and 470 mg kg−1, respectively. Dry season analysis of water-soluble Cu, Pb and Zn concentrations within pools showed that Australian government low trigger guidelines are exceeded in 100, 46 and 100% cases, respectively. The densities of bacterial indicators in remnant pools throughout the Leichhardt River also exceeded acceptable guidelines. Maximum dry season faecal coliform densities of 2000 colony forming units (CFU) per 100 mL and Enterococcus counts of 900 organisms per 100 mL were recorded in dry season remnant pools compared to wet season maximum faecal coliform and Enterococcus densities of 119000 CFU per 100 mL and 95000 organisms per 100 mL, respectively. The impacts on biota were also examined by assessing the metal content of the tissue of seven fish from Lake Moondarra for their Cd, Cu, Hg, Pb and Zn concentrations. Tissue metal values were generally low with only a few samples having Cu and Zn values in excess of the recommended Australian retail guideline values for fish suitable for human consumption. The effectiveness of the City's natural reed bed potable water processing facility for removing metals held within the water body (soluble and particulate) was also assessed. The results show that the treated water generally meets Australian drinking water guidelines. Overall it is clear that sediment and water quality in the area upstream of the potable water storage zone is seriously impaired. The combined effects of industrial, agricultural and urban activities present a considerable risk to the consistency and reliability of water quality, especially during highly turbid wet season flows, which transfer highly elevated concentrations of water-soluble metal and microbial contaminants.

Item Type: Article
School or Research Centre: Birkbeck Schools and Research Centres > School of Science > Earth and Planetary Sciences
Depositing User: Administrator
Date Deposited: 09 Feb 2011 09:43
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2013 12:18
URI: http://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/1799

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