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Surface water quality and deforestation of the Purus river basin, Brazilian Amazon

Ríos-Villamizar, Eduardo Antonio, Piedade, Maria T. F., Junk, Wolfgang J., Waichman, Andréa Viviana
International aquatic research 2017 v.9 no.1 pp. 81-88
aquatic ecosystems, basins, correlation, deforestation, electrical conductivity, forests, land cover, models, oxygen, pH, rivers, surface water, temperature, total suspended solids, water quality, watershed management, watersheds, Amazonia, Brazil
In the last years, deforestation constitutes a threat for the aquatic ecosystems. This paper aims to characterize the water quality of the Purus river in the Brazilian Amazon, and investigate the relations between water quality and deforestation of the Purus river basin over a 9-year period, as well as to quantify the Purus river basin’s land cover changes (%) in a 5-year period. Sampling data from upstream to downstream show a decrease in pH-value, dissolved oxygen, electrical conductivity, and total suspended solids. Correlation analysis revealed a significant negative correlation of the accumulated total deforestation values (km²) with the pH-value (in all the study sites), and a significant positive correlation with temperature (only in two sites). However, the deforestation rates (km²/year) did not present, in none of the study stations, any significant correlation with water quality parameters. It seems that the effects of deforestation on water quality are related not with the rate but with the total area deforested. It was estimated that the basin’s forested area decreased by 5.17%. Since similar attributes are common in other basins of the whitewater systems of the Brazilian Amazon, this results may be seen as a warning on the effects of deforestation on water quality (reduction in pH and increment in temperature values), in larger areas than those of our study sites. To maintain the conservation and preservation status of the Purus river basin, it is necessary, the implementation of a transboundary watershed management program that could serve as a conservation model for Brazil and other countries of the Amazonian region.