The Effects of Nutrients: A Study of Tampa Bay Estuary

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1.1 Introduction Excessive Total Nitrogen (TN) and Total Phosphorus (TP) levels in natural water systems have proven to cause high levels of algae production. The Tampa Bay estuary has four major river basins that flow into it transporting TN and TP from the outfalls of terrestrial wastewater treatment plants and agricultural runoff. The process of phytoplankton growth which consumes the excess TN and TP in natural systems can also be related to the changing water quality levels such as dissolved oxygen (DO), salinity, available nutrient concentration, pH, water temperature and turbidity. For example, this lack of DO in the water reduces the longevity of the wildlife present in saline environments. This impact produces changes in the ecosystem. It is imperative that TP and TN levels be monitored and managed because of their impacts on the natural water bodies. The Tampa Bay estuary has seen been a receiving body for effluent wastewater for an extensive period of time (Janicki et al., 2001). Tampa Bay receives effluent waste water from four watersheds; Hillsborough Bay, Old Tampa Bay, Middle Tampa Bay and Lower Tampa Bay. The effects of the effluent discharge in the water body may have negative effects on the natural ecosystem. More specifically the dissolved oxygen levels as well as decreased light availability in the bay which decreases proportionally as total phosphorus (TP) and total nitrogen (TN) concentrations increase (Bricker et al., 1999). The effects of TP and TN in an estuary system can be seen in figure 1. This eutrophication is of high importance because the implications that it brings to the water system. These effects are a direct result of human interaction with the natural water system. Thus it... ... middle of paper ... ...isposal of waste water from treatment plants increases so will the need for nutrient control programs to ensure the natural water bodies are being protected from degeneration. Treatment processes that have gained popularity in recent years, e.g wetland application, mechanic or chemical treatment, are becoming more acceptable as the public are becoming more aware of the effects of eutrophication. Also the use of reclaimed water is alleviating the burden on receiving water bodies. As more water is being depleted from the groundwater table the need will shift to surface water treatment for drinking water thus if the proper steps are being taken now the processing costs of the future will decline significantly. Also the natural system will be able to sustain its self for a longer period time. Works Cited The Effects of Nutrients: A Study of Tampa Bay Estuary

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