Original Research

The implementation of an aquatic toxicity index as a water quality monitoring tool in the Olifants River (Kruger National Park)

V. Wepener, J.H.J. van Vuren, H.H. du Preez
Koedoe | Vol 42, No 1 | a225 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/koedoe.v42i1.225 | © 1999 V. Wepener, J.H.J. van Vuren, H.H. du Preez | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 31 July 1999 | Published: 31 July 1999

About the author(s)

V. Wepener, University of Zululand, South Africa
J.H.J. van Vuren, Rand Afrikaans University, South Africa
H.H. du Preez, Rand Afrikaans University, South Africa

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Large sets of water quality data can leave water quality managers and decision-makers totally overwhelmed. In order to convey the interpretation of the data in a simplified and understandable manner, the water quality results from bi-monthly surveys undertaken at seven different sampling sites in the Letaba, Olifants, and Selati rivers over a two year period (February 1990 to April 1992) were reduced to index values, using a water quality index. The water quality index (Aquatic Toxicity Index or ATI) revealed spatial and temporal trends. The higher index values, recorded for the sampling sites towards the eastern part of the Kruger National Park (KNP), revealed that the water quality was better than the quality measured in the Olifants River on the western bound-ary. The lowest index values were calculated for the Selati River, with index values consistently below 50. Index values indicate that the water quality in the Selati River was unsuitable for supporting normal physiological processes in fish. The water quality of the Selati River had an immediate impact on the water quality of the Olifants River directly below the confluence. Lower index values recorded at sites further downstream was also attributed to the influence of the Selati River since there are no known point sources of contaminants within the boundaries of the KNP. The index scores also elucidated temporal trends with lower scores evident during winter months. This was due to reduced flow in the Olifants River and a greater contribution of contaminated water from the Selati River. Index values increased following the first seasonal rains due to a dilution effect. Very low index values were recorded at certain sites during flood periods due to increased turbidity, reduced oxygen, and increased metal concentrations.


water quality index, implementation, Olifants River, Kruger National Park, water quality management.


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