Rio Grande River’s Effects On Saltwater Bodies Near The South Texas Coastlines

2222 words - 9 pages

Rio Grande River’s effects on Saltwater Bodies near the South Texas Coastlines
Specific Aims
The Rio Grande River runs a length of 1,800 miles and is the fifth longest river in the United States. It spans from the beginning of the San Juan Mountains of Colorado to the United States-Mexico border. Through its path the Rio Grande collects sediments from erosion and pollutants from agriculture and municipal waste, it then dumps such pollutants into connecting saltwater branches such as: Boca Chica Beach and South Padre Island. The purpose of this experiment is to test the effects of the connection between the Rio Grande River and its connecting saltwater bodies. Boca Chica Beach and South ...view middle of the document...

Scientists attribute agricultural pollution to run-off from fertilizer and animal wastes used in local regions and municipal pollution to the effluent discharge from waste treatment facilities [1]. The industrial pollution found in a water body is caused by the run-off of chemicals left over from the manufacturing of industrial products. Confirmation of municipal waste in the river has been found and is caused by direct pouring of raw sewage from Mexico’s urban areas into the river [2]. This raw sewage is then spread from the Rio Grande to connecting water bodies. Evidence of municipal waste is indicated by the presence of coliform bacteria and in July 2010 Boca Chica Beach began to show grave signs of such pollution. Research conducted by the Texas Beachwatch program during that time indicated high levels of bacteria in the beach and alerted the public to stay out of the water [3]. Other studies of the local beach water also conducted by the University of Texas Pan American Coastal Studies Laboratory under a program titled the Rio Grande Coastal Impact Monitoring Program (RGCIMP) which documents pollutant discharges from the Rio Grande and associated drains into the south Texas coastal waters, and the impacts of these pollutants. They also found on this occasion that tested water displayed excessive levels of bacteria which exceeded government health standards. Water bodies used for primary contact such as swimming are required by the USEPA to have less than 1,000 coliform bacteria per every 100 mL of water and waters used for boating and fishing, are required to have less than 5,000 bacteria present [4]. It is hypothesized that contaminents are being acquired in the waters at Boca Chica beach and South Padre Island due to run-off from the Rio Grande River. In order to investigate the current state of these two saltwater bodies it is necessary to test for the presence and concentration of the following factors: coliform, bacteria, dissolved oxygen, nitrate, pH, phosphate levels, and turbidity.
The presence of coliform bacteria serves as a reliable indication of sewage or fecal contamination. Fecal coliform bacteria are naturally present in the human digestive tract but are rare and usually absent in unpolluted waters. Coliform bacteria should not be found in drinking water and although this bacterium is not pathogenic itself, it does occur with intestinal pathogens that are dangerous to human health if consumed. The consumption of untreated saltwater is highly restricted for these health reasons.
The percent saturation of dissolved oxygen in aquatic ecosystems is important to its condition. High levels of dissolved oxygen support stable and diverse ecosystems. The reason it is important for a water body to not support excessive levels of bacteria from sewage pollution is because these high levels attribute to the decrease of available dissolved oxygen for aquatic animals. To measure the percent saturation of dissolved oxygen you must...

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