Water Quality in Relation to Topography
by Jonathan Ipsaro

Does Topography Affect Water Quality?
Yes. In fact, many individual factors that contribute to the quality of water are strongly impacted by topographical features. These factors are listed, followed by a brief description on how they are changed.

A note about this page: All of the links provided below go to a source page which lists where to find the addresses of these web sites. To find this, match the image or topic you clicked on the source page. Thank you and good luck!

Temperature- Due to variations in exposure to sunlight or thermal pollution from nearby industries, the temperature of a river or stream may be raised.

pH- The pH can change due to discharge from factories, excessive amounts of pollution, or geographic events such as volcanic eruptions.

Oxygen Content- The Oxygen content of any river body may change from the temperature of the water, or a rapid change in elevation such as a waterfall. Another way Oxygen content may be raised is the presence of rapids or "white water" this term described the churning of air into the water, therefore the Oxygen content goes up.

Erosion- Erosion takes place at the place in a body of water (usually a river) where it begins to turn. Erosion also takes place along the sides of the river.

Deposition- The counterpart to Erosion where the sediments removed by erosion are deposited. This usually occurs where the river finishes a turn of changes the direction of a turn.

Runoff- Depending on the landscape, runoff may have a strong or little influence on water quality. If the source of the runoff is uphill from the final destination, much runoff will occur. If the source is on an even level or downhill from the destination, the opposite is true.

Total Solids- The amounts of these increase with the presence of industry, geological events like land or mud slides, and high erosion.

Pollution (Overall)- There are several ways in which the pollution level of a body of water may change according to the surrounding topography.

Pollution (Organisms)- The type of organisms found in different parts of water bodies are usually good indicators of the pollution levels in the water. As mentioned before, nearby factories or production facilities may pollute the water allowing different types of macro-invertebrate life. The concentration and type of organisms directly change with the amount of pollution present, which is directly related to the water's location and geographical features that "filter out" pollution.

B.O.D.- Because different topographical features influence higher or lower amounts of pollution, different organisms and plants may be present in different places in a water body, thus affecting the biological oxygen demand(B.O.D). In areas with high B.O.D., it is difficult for larger animals to attain Oxygen. Furthermore, in places with low B.O.D., Oxygen is more plentiful.

Source List- A list of the links and sources provided in this series of web pages.

Go to the EPAHomepage
Go to the Great Lakes Environmental EducationSystemE-mail the Creator of this Page! Learn More About the Pollution Sensitivity of DifferentOrganisms
Watershed Education Resources byGREEN
The 1997 Strongsville High School Cuyahoga RiverProject
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