Eugene and Welch (1992) define eutrophication as “the process by which water bodied become more productive through increased output of inorganic nutrients” (p.158). The phenomenon is highly evidenced in mature freshwater bodies as a result of chemical reactions between temperature and light. Human actions like introduction of sewage and factory effluents into water bodies also enhance eutrophication. Eutrophicated water bodies are easily identified by the water color, which is either greenish-whitish or yellowish with traces of brown and red hues. Various merits and demerits have been identified concerning eutrophication with scholars attributing the destructive nature of the process as outweighing the benefits.
Treated human wastes act as a healthy source of plant nutrients that stimulate the expansion of aquatic undergrowth. Sewage offers a rich supply of nitrates and phosphates that enhance the amount of phytoplankton like algae and water fleas, acting as the primary constituents of aquatic food products. This knowledge has been used for business purposes in fish farming as the natural introduction of the sewage in fish pools accentuates the amount level of natural food supply that is quite economical as compared to synthetic fish feed (Ansari, 2010). Treated sewage can be supplemented by synthetic manures and contemporary detergents for the nutrient supply. Eutrophication mainly supports the blue-green species of algae, which is responsible for the alteration of the water color as well as the formation of additional food chains in aquatic bodies that promote new marine life. The algae population however, tends to have an adverse consequence on aquatic animals as the level increases to the bloom phase.
In the bloom stage, the population of algae is marked as a surplus that consequently blocks the amount of solar energy and oxygen supply present in a water body. Algae as green plants absorb a lot of solar energy and carbon dioxide released from aquatic animals during breathing for photosynthesis throughout the day. The product of photosynthesis is the release of oxygen into the water which is proportionately linked to the amount of algae; the higher the populace of algae, the higher the quantity of oxygen released. However, during the night, the algae tend to absorb oxygen for the respiration causing a shortage that in the extreme level leads to suffocation and demise of aquatic species. Additionally, some algae tend to alter their respiration processes from aerobic to anaerobic, enhancing suitable conditions for bacterial species like Clostridium botulinum that produces toxic resources that are detrimental to the health of water mammals and birds (Eugene, & Welch, 1992).
A number of of the algae tend to be toxic posing a notable hazard to humans. Aquatic animals like oysters and mussels are nourished by dead algae and the toxin is preserved within their systems. As humans feed on the toxic marine food, the poison is transferred to their body systems causing health problems like diarrhea and paralysis (Ansari, 2010). Alternatively, the toxin is transferred from one animal to another, in case of carnivorous feeding, as evidenced by the ciguatera species causing an eventual health problem to humans. The value of water undergoing eutrophication tends to decrease as the process matures. The water in terms of color and contamination caused by algae decomposition cannot be used for basic purposes like drinking and cooking. Water treating companies tend to be limited in water production as eutrophication enhances manufacturing costs which are an increased overhead for such companies.
The tourism industry is adversely affected as the aesthetic component is reduced as decomposing algae tend to be quite putrid, a consequence in the air quality (Ansari, 2010). Another economic downfall is noted in the fishing industry as the water color limits the visibility of aquatic animals which is very important in fishing episodes; the shortage caused by colossal deaths due to oxygen shortage and toxicity increase food pricing for the consumers. Additionally, the blue-green algae support weak food chains that replace superior ones necessitated for advanced aquatic life. The fragile animal species that arise tend to have shortened life spans that are an adverse element within the marine environment.
Ansari, A. (2010). Eutrophication: Causes, Consequences and Control. New York, NY: Springer.
Welch, E. B., & Lindell, T. (1992). Ecological effects of wastewater: applied limnology and pollution effects. Florence, KY: Taylor & Francis.
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