Potential contribution of nutrients and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons from the creeks of Cootes Paradise Marsh

Chow-Fraser, P. , B. Crosbie, D. Bryant and B. McCarry
Water Quality Research Journal of Canada
(1996) 31(3): 485-503


During the summer of 1994, we compared the physical and nutrient characteristics of the three main tributaries of Cootes Paradise: Spencer, Chedoke and Borer's creeks. On all sampling occasions, concentrations of CHL a and nutrients were always lowest in Borer's Creek and highest in Chedoke Creek. There were generally 10-fold higher CHL a concentrations and 2 to 10 times higher levels of nitrogen and phosphorus in Chedoke Creek compared with Spencer Creek. Despite this, the light environment did not differ significantly between Spencer and Chedoke creeks because the low algal biomass in Spencer Creek was balanced by a relatively high loading of inorganic sediments from the watershed. Laboratory experiments indicated that sediments from Chedoke Creek released up to 10 pg/g of soluble phosphorus per gram (dry weight) of sediment, compared with only 2 pglg from Spencer Creek. By contrast, sediment samples from Spencer Creek contained levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon that were as high as or higher than those from Chedoke Creek, and much higher than those found in Borer's Creek. The distribution of normalized PAH concentrations suggests a common source of PAHs in all three tributaries, most likely automobile exhaust, since there were high concentrations of fluoranthene and pyrene, both of which are derivatives of engine combustion.

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