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Biogeochemical processes and sewage markers in Buffalo Creek, Darwin

Burford, Michele, Smth, Jodie and Revill, Andy (2009). Biogeochemical processes and sewage markers in Buffalo Creek, Darwin<br />. Darwin, NT: Charles Darwin University.

Document type: Research Report
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Author Burford, Michele
Smth, Jodie
Revill, Andy
Title of Report Biogeochemical processes and sewage markers in Buffalo Creek, Darwin
Publication Date 2009
ISBN 978-1-921576-13-3   (check CDU catalogue open catalogue search in new window)
Publisher Charles Darwin University
Place of Publication Darwin, NT
Total Pages 12
Field of Research 300800 Environmental Sciences
Abstract Project Objectives

-   To quantify the effect of sewage on biogeochemical processes in a hypereutrophic creek, Buffalo Creek

-   To compare the results with a previous study showing limited effects of sewage on a creek (Myrmidon Creek) with smaller loads  
     of nutrients

Summary of findings
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, 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.

Methods and Results

A field trip was conducted to Buffalo Creek, Darwin by five scientists from Geoscience Australia, CSIRO, and Griffith University, with logistic support from staff at the Northern Territory Resources, Environment, the Arts and Sports (NRETAS) Department, from 1 to 8th December 2008. A number of sites were sampled down the length of the creek, from the most upstream site which was navigable by boat (BC0) through a downstream site near the mouth (BC4). All sampling was standardized on the outgoing tide to maximise the sewage effects and avoid the confounding effects of incoming oceanic water.
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Created: Wed, 09 Mar 2016, 09:29:35 CST by Marion Farram