TRaCK: Tropical Rivers and Coastal Knowledge

Science and knowledge that governments, communities, industries for sustainable use of Australia's tropical rivers and estuaries

Biogeochemical processes and sewage markers in Buffalo Creek, Darwin

TitleBiogeochemical processes and sewage markers in Buffalo Creek, Darwin
Publication TypeReport
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsBurford, M, Smith, J, Revill, A
Date Published09/2009
InstitutionCharles Darwin University
ISBN Number978-1-921576-13-3
Keywords5: Foodwebs and biodiversity, biogeochemical processes, primary productivity, sewage, water quality

This study examined a range of biogeochemical processes, water quality and sewage chemical markers in Buffalo Creek in December 2008. The results were compared with two other creeks, Myrmidon Creek (receiving sewage from Palmerston STP) and a reference creek (Fig.1). Coprostanol (a sewage chemical marker), chlorophyll a and nutrient concentrations, primary productivity, sediment nutrient fluxes, pore water nutrients, water column and sediment respiration were all higher in Buffalo Creek than Myrmidon Creek or the reference creek. Dissolved oxygen concentrations and denitrification efficiency were lower and the phytoplankton community shifted towards diatoms. These differences were not only measured at upstream sites, but on the outgoing tide, and were also measured in the downstream region of the creek. This suggests that sewage outfall is having substantial effects on the biogeochemical processes of the creek during the study, with the greatest effects being on the following processes: primary productivity in the water column, sediment nutrient fluxes, denitrification efficiency.