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Water Quality Assessment: Physical: Total Solids
Total solids is a measure of the suspended and dissolved solids in water. Suspended solids are those that can be retained on a water filter and are capable of settling out of the water column onto the stream bottom when stream velocities are low. They include silt, clay, plankton, organic wastes, and inorganic precipitates such as those from acid mine drainage. Dissolved solids are those that pass through a water filter. They include some organic materials, as well as salts, inorganic nutrients, and toxins.

The concentration of dissolved solids in stream water is important because it determines the flow of water in and out of the cells of aquatic organisms. Also, some dissolved inorganic elements such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur are nutrients essential for life. Low concentrations of total solids can result in limited growth of aquatic organisms due to nutrient deficiencies. Elevated levels of total solids, however, can lead to eutrophication of the stream or increased turbidity. Both eutrophication and increased turbidity result in a decrease in stream water quality.

Elevated concentrations of total solids may indicate the presence of agricultural activities, dredging, or mining upstream from your sample site.

 

Overview ..|.. Biological Assessment ..|.. Chemical Assessment ..|.. Physical Assessment.

Elevation and Catchment Area / Stream Order / Forest Canopy / Width, Depth, and Velocity / Rock Size / Turbidity / Total Solids / Temperature
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