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The River Basin  
Climate and Weather
Water Quality
 Principles of Water Quality
 Water Temperature
 Dissolved Oxygen
 Total Dissolved Solids and Conductivity
 Suspended Sediment
 Biological Water Quality Parameters
 Spiritual Meaning of Water
 Human Impacts to Water Quality
 Water Temperature
 Microbiological Pollution
 EDCs and POPs
 Acidity, Heavy Metals and Radionuclides
 The Legacy of Gold Mining
 Coal Mining and water
 Heavy Metals
 Groundwater Quality
 Water Quality Fitness for Use
Ecology and Biodiversity


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Water Quality



At a basin or sub-basin scale, particularly in semi-arid and arid areas, priority is often placed on monitoring and management of water quantity. However, the issue of monitoring and management of water quality is equally important. Issues surrounding water quality are particularly important given increasing pressure from legacy impacts of the mining industry; most specifically from Acid Mine Drainage.

Water quality is often characterised in terms of the concentration of different substances in water. Factors that determine “good” or “bad” water quality depend on the purpose of the assessment. For example, water with elevated concentrations of some metals may be unsafe to drink, but still suitable for industrial uses. Water quality assessments involve comparing measured chemical concentrations with natural, background, or baseline concentrations, and with guidelines established to protect human health or ecological communities. This chapter defines  physical, chemical, biological and spiritual water quality characteristics, and explains how human activities contribute to water quality problems in the basin.

Chapter Summary

This chapter covers the following concepts and material:

The Richtersveld region, South Africa/Namibia.
Source: ŠiStockphoto/ Roode 2008
( click to enlarge )



Explore the sub-basins of the Orange-Senqu River

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Explore the interactions of living organisms in aquatic environments

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