High Sediment Oxygen Demand Within an Instream Swamp in Southern Georgia: Implications for Low Dissolved Oxygen Levels in Coastal Blackwater Streams1

Authors


  • 1

    Paper No. JAWRA-09-0047-P of the Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA). Discussions are open until six months from print publication.

Abstract

Todd, M. Jason, George Vellidis, R. Richard Lowrance, and Catherine M. Pringle, 2009. High Sediment Oxygen Demand Within an Instream Swamp in Southern Georgia: Implications for Low Dissolved Oxygen Levels in Coastal Blackwater Streams. Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA) 45(6):1493-1507.

Abstract:  Sediment oxygen demand (SOD) is considered a critical and dominant sink for dissolved oxygen (DO) in many river systems including blackwater streams and is often poorly investigated or roughly estimated in oxygen budgets. The purposes of this study are to (1) characterize and document the magnitude and variability of SOD in representative instream swamps found on the Georgia Coastal Plain; (2) predict SOD from more readily measured parameters such as soil, sediment, and litter organic carbon; and (3) obtain an accurate representation of SOD values within this understudied habitat to help improve water quality models and the continued development of DO as an appropriate water quality standard. Results show SOD rates ranging from 0.491 to 14.189 g O2/m2/day, up to 18 times higher than values reported for southeastern sandy-bottomed streams and suggest that instream swamps are repositories of large amounts of organic matter and are thus areas of intense oxygen demand and a major factor in determining the oxygen balance of the watershed as a whole. These areas of intense oxygen demand in relatively unimpacted areas indicate that low DO concentrations may be a natural phenomenon. SOD rates were significantly correlated (alpha = 0.05) with a number of sediment parameters, with organic carbon and total organic carbon being the best predictors of SOD rate. When developing water quality models, managers should pay closer attention to the influence of SOD as it plays a critical role in determining DO levels within instream swamps and the river system.

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