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Physical and chemical features of a tropical hypertrophic reservoir permanently stratified

González, Ernesto J., Ortaz, Mario, Peñaherrera, Carlos, de Infante, Aída
Hydrobiologia 2004 v.522 no.1-3 pp. 301-310
ammonia, anaerobic conditions, basins, dry season, farms, hydrogen sulfide, lakes, mixing, nitrates, nitrites, nitrogen, nutrients, orthophosphates, pH, phosphorus, poultry, smell, streams, surface water, swine, temperature profiles, topography, turbidity, wastewater, water reservoirs, water salinity, wind, Venezuela
Physical and chemical parameters of Pao-Cachinche reservoir (Venezuela) were measured in four stations (S1-S4) during an eighteen months period from September 1997 to February 1999. The tributaries of this reservoir introduce high amounts of nutrients from domestic wastewaters and from poultry and pig farms located in the basin. Thermal stratification was well established throughout the study period. Mountainous topography protects the water surface from mechanical action of wind, preventing water mixing. Hypoxic/anoxic conditions prevailed from 6–7 m depth down to the bottom in the limnetic stations. A strong smell of H₂S was detected below the 10 m level. The low water transparency (max. 1.5 m) may be mainly attributed to a high biogenic turbidity. Water salinity was low, as the maximum conductivity measured (260 μS cm⁻¹) suggests. The water was alkaline in the upper layers during the day time (pH >8.0), due to the high phytoplanktonic productivity, whereas in deeper layers, where decomposition processes predominate, pH was acidic (close to 6.0). Orthophosphate concentrations were high, reaching maximal concentrations in the deeper part of the reservoir (greater than 800 μg l⁻¹). Total phosphorus exceeded 1000 μg l⁻¹ in the hypolimnion during the dry season. Ammonia was the dominant inorganic nitrogen species, and its values were greater than 4000 μg l⁻¹ in the hypolimnetic layer during the dry season. Nitrates and nitrites were present in relatively low concentrations, except for the Paito stream entrance, where nitrate concentrations remained above 260 μg l⁻¹. Pao–Cachinche reservoir can be considered hypertrophic, according to Salas & Martinó’s criteria for tropical warm lakes, and could be classified as meromictic and warm monomictic, according to Lewis tropical lake types.