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This research focuses on the temporal and spatial physico-chemical parameters of River Galmas. Fresh water bodies all over the world are constantly faced with pollution challenges most of which are anthropogenic in nature. Determination of physico-chemical parameters is one of the many routine practices of determining the health of the ecosystem and the survivability of the living biota within it. Water samples were collected from five different locations along the river course and results indicate high significance difference (P˂0.05) in biological oxygen demand, hardness, alkalinity, sulphate, nitrate, phosphate-phosphorus, total dissolved solids, electrical conductivity, and temperature of the sampling months with significance difference in dissolved oxygen. There were no significant differences amongst the sites. Electrical conductivity ranged from mean values of 69.20±3.12µs/cm (August) to 157.80±24.69µs/cm (December), the dissolved oxygen: 3.05±0.22mg/l (November) to 5.12±0.20mg/l (August). Biological Oxygen Demand: 2.83±0.27mg/l (December) to 6.37±0.24mg/l (September). Hardness of water: 23.20±4.45mg/l (December) to 177.60±19.71mg/l (September), Alkalinity: 23.00±2.12mg/l (August) to 48.80±1.66 mg/ml (August). The physico-chemical parameters varied widely during the months and locations of the samples and sampling sites. With the exception of the electrical conductivity the physico-chemical parameter was within the acceptable limits. The river is not fit for direct human consumption but it can be put to other uses. This research should serve as invaluable information to the relevant authority and the scientific world on the necessary steps to take to check-mate the effects of pollution on River Galmas.

1.0       Introduction

Water is one of the most important and abundant compounds of the ecosystem. Water resources are of great importance to plants, animals, human life and economy and are the main source of meeting the demand for drinking water, for irrigation of lands and industries.

The physico-chemical parameters of the river tell much about its quality and suitability for both humans and survival of the living biota within it. Bellingham (2012) stated that, in order to mitigate the impact human societies, have on natural waters, it is becoming increasingly important to implement comprehensive monitoring regimes which will quantify water quality, identify impairments and help policy makers make land use decisions that will not only preserve natural areas, but improve the quality of life.

Important physical and chemical parameters influencing the aquatic environment are temperature, rainfall, pH, dissolved oxygen and carbon dioxide. Others are total suspended and dissolved solids, total alkalinity and acidity and heavy metal contaminants. Rivers are waterways of strategic importance for domestic, industrial and agricultural purposes (Jain, 2009). As a result, untreated discharge of pollutants to a water resource system from domestic sewers, storm water discharges, industrial wastewater, agricultural runoff and other sources, all can have short term and long term significant effects on the quality of a river system (Singh, 2007). The dissolved oxygen is important in the natural self-purification capacity of the river (Zeb et al., 2011). BOD (Biological Oxygen Demand) is often used as a measurement of pollutants in natural and waste waters and to assess the strength of waste, such as sewage and industrial effluent waters (Zeb et al., 2011). BOD is an important parameter of water indicating the health scenario of freshwater bodies (Bhatti and Latif, 2011).

Maximum amount of oxygen in clean water is about 9 mg/dm3. Prolonged exposure to low dissolved oxygen levels (less than 5 to 6 mg/dm3 oxygen) may not directly kill an organism, but will increase its susceptibility to other environmental stresses. Exposure to less than 30% saturation (less than 2 mg/dm3 oxygen) for one to four days may kill most of the aquatic life in a system.

Biochemical Oxygen Demand, or BOD, is a measure of the quantity of oxygen consumed by microorganisms during decomposition of organic matter. BOD is the most commonly used parameter for determining the oxygen demand on the receiving water of a municipal or industrial discharge. BOD can also be used for evaluation of the efficiency of treatment processes, and it is an indirect measure of biodegradable organic compounds in water. High BOD is an indication of poor water quality. The lower the BOD the less organic matter is present in water. A high BOD is often accompanied by a low DO level.

Distribution of temperature is different for surface waters and groundwater. Temperature of surface waters depends mainly on water origin, climatic zone, season, altitude, degree of riparian coverage, inflow of industrial and municipal sewage (power plants, industrial cooling). Temperature increase decrease the amount of dissolved oxygen (DO), increase biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), acceleration of nitrification and oxidation of ammonia to nitrates (III) and (V) which eventually lead to oxygen deficit in water. Higher temperature also increases toxicity of many substances (pesticides, heavy metals) and susceptibility of organisms to toxicants.

Alkalinity refers to the capability of water to neutralize acids. Generally, the basic species responsible for alkalinity in water are bicarbonate ion, carbonate ion and hydroxide ion, whereas pH is an intensity factor, alkalinity is a capacity (Manahan, 1993). For protection of aquatic life, the buffering capacity should be at least 20 mg/dm3.Conductivity is a measure of the capacity of an aqueous solution to carry an electrical current. Conductivity depends on the presence of ions (cations and anions) in water, their total concentration, mobility and valence, and on temperature of water.

The hardness of water is the concentration of ions that will react with a sodium soap to precipitate an insoluble residue. Water hardness is the result of dissolved minerals presence, usually total concentration of cations of calcium Ca2+, magnesium Mg2+, iron Fe3+ and manganese Mn2+.Sulphates are one of the least toxic anions and large quantities would have to be ingested in order for health disorders to occur (especially diarrhoea type symptoms). The presence of sulphate in drinking water can result in noticeable bitter taste.Nitrate occurs in water naturally as a result of plant or animal material decomposition, but can also be introduced into water due to human activities, e.g. food production, where used as a preservative; use of agricultural fertilizers and manure; disposal of domestic and industrial sewage. Nitrates stimulate the growth of macrophytes and phytoplankton but simultaneously they make up for the nutrient load in water, leading to eutrophication. Some studies have shown there may be a relation between nitrates presence in water and gastric cancer and methemoglobinemia (which in infants is often referred to as blue baby syndrome).

The River Galma is currently loaded with run-offs from agricultural and municipal activities of the surrounding communities along its course at various adjoining tributaries (most of which are seasonal); and contain myriads of toxic pollutants (heavy metals inclusive). There may also be contribution of toxic pollutants from the few industrial activities in Chikaji and Dakace areas. River Galma receives variable levels of pollution from different sources of anthropogenic activities along its banks (Butu and Bichi, 2013). Monitoring of water quality will ensure protection of public health (WHO, 2011), since about 90% of water supply globally comes from large water bodies.

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