4.6 Tidal rivers and estuaries

Most of the major cities and harbours in the world are located on estuaries. The estuarine ecosystem is a unique intermediate between the sea, the land and fresh water.

A rather precise definition of an estuary is ‘a semi-enclosed coastal body of water, which has a free connection with the open sea, and within which sea water is measurably diluted with fresh water derived from land drainage’. This excludes large bays with little or no freshwater flow, and large brackish seas and inl
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3.5.3 Protozoa

Protozoa are microscopic single cell animals. They utilise solid substances and bacteria as a food source. They can only function aerobically, and in a stream which contains little organic degradable matter they can become a predominant microbial type. They play an important part in sewage treatment where they remove free-swimming bacteria and help to produce a clear effluent.

In an aquatic environment, there are three main types of protozoa:

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3.5.2 Bacteria

Bacteria are organisms of special significance to the study of clean and polluted waters because they break down organic matter. While most of them are not harmful to humans, some bacteria (e.g. Clostridium) are pathogenic. Most bacteria are retained on a filter of pore size 0.45 μm and all bacteria are trapped on a filter of 0.22 μm. They are important in sewage treatment, and in solid waste disposal. They are extremely abundant in almost all parts of the aquatic en
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3.4.2 Radiological aspects

Environmental radiation comes from a range of naturally occurring and anthropogenic sources, with the former estimated to contribute more than 98% of the radiation dose experienced by people (excluding medical exposure). Any exposure to radiation can lead to cancer, and the greater the exposure, the greater the risk.

The contribution that drinking water makes to radiation intake is very small, and is due largely to naturally occurring radionuclides (isotopes of an element which are unst
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3.4.1 Plant nutrients

Plant nutrients are necessary in varying amounts for the growth, reproduction and well-being of growing plants.

Of the major nutrients of plants, nitrogen and phosphorus are important growth-limiting factors in primary production (i.e. they are likely to run out before any other element needed by the plants). Both nitrogen and phosphorus enter watercourses from natural leaching by water of the soluble nitrates and phosphates found in soils and rocks, as well as from sewage effluent and
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2.11 Storage

In a given fixed space at any phase of the hydrological cycle, there is an inflow and an outflow of water, the rates of which vary with time. The total cumulative difference between inflow and outflow is the storage. So within that space there is a body of water whose mass is not directly controlled by instantaneous values of inflow and outflow. For example, in river flow the movement of the whole body of water in the channel is generally downstream, yet a given reach contains a volume whose
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2.6 Precipitation

Precipitation is defined as the depth of rainfall, or the water equivalent of snow, sleet and hail falling during a given measurement period. It may be in the form of rain, snow, sleet or hail, or in minor forms such as dew and hoar frost, but existing theories do not yet satisfactorily account for all the observed characteristics. In tropical climates, precipitation occurs as a result of the gradual coalescence of the tiny condensed droplets as they collide within the cloud
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1 Some facts about water

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