STP730

    Establishment of Biotic Communities Within a Newly Constructed Ash Settling Basin and Its Drainage System

    Published: Jan 1981


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    Abstract

    A newly constructed coal-ash settling basin and its drainage system at the 400D area power plant of the Savannah River Project, in Aiken, S.C., were studied from April 1977 to December 1978. The basin was filled in August 1977 by a flow of 7500 litres/min that consisted of Savannah River water and coal ash. The effluent was released to an excavated canal approximately 300 m in length, which drained into an older stream (300 m long) and then into a 3-km2 swamp area that had received effluent from a previous ash settling basin. Between March and August 1977, the stream and swamp received only runoff from rainfall. During this time, when no basin effluent was released to the stream and swamp, the water quality characteristics were altered, and aquatic biota were reduced throughout the system.

    The water quality characteristics were tested in the new ash settling system approximately every two months between April 1977 and December 1978. Samples were collected to determine the aerobic bacterial, phytoplankton, zooplankton, benthic invertebrate, and vertebrate populations at five stations in the basin system and one in the Savannah River at the pump station.

    During the period of study, there were no major changes in water quality characteristics within the new basin. Seasonal peaks occurred in the bacterial populations in warmer months, and the composition of those populations within the basin system was determined to be different from that in the Savannah River. Sparse planktonic populations within the basin increased in numbers and diversity as the basin stabilized. Benthic invertebrates were first collected in the new basin in December 1977 and then increased in density and diversity at each subsequent sampling. Tadpoles were first collected in the basin in April 1978, and mosquito fish were first collected in May 1978.

    Data obtained indicate that an efficient settling basin for coal ash has provided a suitable habitat for varied aquatic biotic communities, although some characteristics of the effluent have affected the normal balance and stability of communities within this environment. Such findings are important in that the suitability of receiving water habitats to aquatic life should be little affected by the release of effluent from such a basin.

    Keywords:

    aquatic communities, coal ash, water quality, bacteria, plankton, invertebrates, ecology, effluents, aquatic organisms


    Author Information:

    Guthrie, RK
    Professor of microbiology and ecology, associate professor of environmental sciences, and research associate in environmental sciences, School of Public Health, University of Texas, Houston, Texas

    Cherry, DS
    Assistant professor of biology, Center for Environmental Studies, Department of Biology, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Va.

    Davis, EM
    Professor of microbiology and ecology, associate professor of environmental sciences, and research associate in environmental sciences, School of Public Health, University of Texas, Houston, Texas

    Murray, HE
    Professor of microbiology and ecology, associate professor of environmental sciences, and research associate in environmental sciences, School of Public Health, University of Texas, Houston, Texas


    Paper ID: STP27640S

    Committee/Subcommittee: D19.95

    DOI: 10.1520/STP27640S


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