Friday, August 7, 2009

PS 76-8: Seasonal distribution of pollutants in the lower Mississippi River in the area of Port Gibson MS

Roberta F. Laing and Alex D. W. Acholonu. Alcorn State University


Background: Mississippi River is one of the most important rivers in the United States, both ecologically and economically. Many states depend on it for drinking water, recreation, and for shipment of goods. It is therefore important to see to it that it remains serviceable to communities that use it and the organisms that live in it. To effectively do this, its quality in terms of pollution or contamination needs to be periodically checked. The purpose of this study was to assess the extent to which the Lower Mississippi River was polluted during the winter season of 2009.

Question: Does the Mississippi River meet the standard of fresh water bodies as set by the State of Mississippi? How does the level of pollution compare with those of other seasons previously reported?

Methods:  During the month of February 2009, water samples were collected at three locations from the Mississippi River in the Port Gibson area, MS. Samples were collected in three replicates and at one week intervals. They were taken to the laboratory and tested according to the methods indicated in the LaMotte water pollution detection kits supplied by LaMotte Company, Chestertown, MD. Thirteen chemical parameters were tested, the results recorded and analyzed.


Results/Conclusions: The analysis of the results showed some similarities and differences between the previous studies carried out in October 2005 (Fall) and March 2006 (Spring) and the present study conducted in February 2009 (Winter).  In the previous studies of October 2005 (Fall) and March 2006 (Spring), water hardness exceeded the water quality standard of Mississippi and calcium exceeded only in the Fall. In the present study only hardness exceeded the standard. The overall average readings for the thirteen parameters tested and  compared with the Mississippi Water Quality Standard and/or EPA standard were, in parts per million (ppm), as follows: alkalinity(0/3.08), ammonia nitrogen(0/10), carbon dioxide(4.5/10), chlorides(13.5/75), chlorine(0.5/19), chromate(0/NA), cyanide(0/5.2), nitrate(0.31/10), pH(8.1/9.0), silica(2.2/7.5), sulfate(5.4/250),  sulfide(0.22/2) and water hardness(170/50). The results indicate that with respect to the winter of 2009 the Lower Mississippi River met the Mississippi water quality standard with the exception of water hardness. In view of the fact that three seasons have been investigated, it is recommended that a similar study be conducted in the summer season.