Impact of Wastewater on Water Quality and Fish Community in the Tolych River, Perm Krai, Russia

Document Type : Original Research Paper


1 Perm State University, 15, Bukireva st., Perm, 614990, Russia

2 Khabarovsk branch of VNIRO (“KhabarovskNIRO”), 13a Amurski blvd., Khabarovsk, 680038, Russia


Boreal freshwater ecosystems are highly sensitive to pollution, but too little information is available on the use of both biotic and chemical indicators for estimation of the effect of wastewater on boreal rivers and streams. The purpose of this study was to assess the wastewater impact on the boreal river (Perm Krai, Russia).  Physicochemical parameters of major ions and trace elements were detected with a field portable unit, capillary electrophoresis, and ICP-MS. Fish data was collected by gillnets. To evaluate the level of pollution from the Tolych River upstream to downstream, we calculated heavy metal evaluation index (HEI), ecological risk index (ERI), and index of biotic integrity (IBI). The anthropogenic impact from upstream to downstream showed the range from a very high to medium level of pollution by ERI and from a high to medium level by HEI values, where most of the studied major ions and trace elements often exceeded aquatic life limits. We found significant thermal pollution of the observed river with the decreasing temperature gradient from pollution source down to the river mouth due to hydromorphological factors. Observed thermal pollution leads to the absence of thermally sensitive cold-water fish species and the abundance of ecologically flexible fish species. The water quality assessed by biotic IBI index showed low and very low quality of lower reach of the studied river, which contradicts the results of assessment by HEI and ERI indices.  The results show the importance of using aquatic organisms as bioindicators for assessing ecological water quality.


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