Paleolimnological assessment of human impacts on an urban South African lake
Journal of Paleolimnology
Botany Department, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, PO Box 77000, Port Elizabeth 6031, South Africa; Department of Geosciences, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, PO Box 77000, Port Elizabeth 6031, South Africa
North End Lake is a polluted and eutrophic freshwater system located in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Since the lake is expected to be used for recreational/tourist purposes by 2010, a rehabilitation program will have to be designed. For this reason, we retrieved a sediment core from the central region of the lake to decipher the effect of historical human impacts on the water body. Pre-disturbance paleolimnological inferences indicate that the lake was likely mesotrophic. After ∼1831, when sheep farming activities were undertaken in the catchment, increases in trophic state and changes in sediment composition were observed. After ∼1937, increases in trace metal levels, organic matter, spheroidal carbonaceous particles (SCP) and changes in sediment composition were recorded. The system became eutrophic as indicated by the dominance of the diatom Actinocyclus normanii, a cosmopolitan species often observed in systems where water quality has been dramatically degraded. The conditions worsened after 1986 because of the construction of a storm-water retention system, which intentionally channeled storm-water runoff into the lake. Because of this, extremely high values of fecal coliforms (i.e. 2 × 106 every 100 ml) have been measured in the water column. The paleolimnological information identified the sharp increase in organic content in the uppermost section of the core, and this could be correlated to the operation of the storm-water retention system. Therefore, as an immediate management measure, we suggest that the storm-water retention system should either no longer be utilized, or the storm-water runoff should be treated before disposal into the lake. In addition, an effective sewage system has to be constructed. © 2006 Springer Science+Business Media, Inc.
anthropogenic effect; diatom; eutrophication; lake; lake pollution; mesotrophic environment; organic matter; paleolimnology; runoff; sediment analysis; sediment core; trace metal; urban area; water quality; Africa; Eastern Cape; Port Elizabeth; South Africa; Southern Africa; Sub-Saharan Africa; Actinocyclus normanii; Bacillariophyta; Ovis aries