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BREE 533- Midterm Exam Guide - Comprehensive Notes for the exam ( 84 pages long!)


Department
Bioresource Engineering
Course Code
BREE 533
Professor
Chandra A Madramootoo
Study Guide
Midterm

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McGill
BREE 533
Midterm EXAM
STUDY GUIDE

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Lecture 1 BREE 533
Water Quality Issues
Life cannot exist without water because:
All living things are made up of water. Example: about 2/3rd of human body is water, woody
plants has more than 50% water, herbaceous plants 80-90%, bacteria 90-95%.
Water is physiologically important for various processes like: it regulates temperature in
body of organisms, it acts as solvent for oxygen, carbon dioxide, minerals and nutrients.
Water is an ecological medium for life:
o Many organisms (like fish) live in water
o Vegetation is distributed throughout the world and it varies with variation in
availability of water.
o Large water bodies like oceans and climate regulate the temperature of the
landmasses. Water absorbs heats up and cools down slowly as compared to land.
So, it affects the climate and rain clouds are built up by evaporation from water
bodies.
Importance of water for humans:
Body function
Food Preparation
Washing and cleaning
Sanitation
Sea food and aquatic plants
Power generation
Transportation (ships)
Entertainment (recreational activities)
Water Quantity
Many people throughout the world face the problem of fresh water shortage. As in 2007, every one
in three people are facing water shortage problem. Also, in some developing countries there is
unavailability of necessary infrastructure to draw water from the rivers or aquifers. This is called
economic water shortage and about 1.6 billion people face it.
Uses of Water
Agriculture (primary use, about 67%)
Domestic
Recreation
Wildlife
Mining
Manufacturing
Water Quality
Historically, Increasing agricultural production (i.e, Arability and yield) was the primary objective
due to which environmental quality suffered.
Now, Environmental quality objectives play a major role in development of design and management
strategies. All development works in agriculture, forestry, mining, etc are subject to some federal
and local rules and regulations. So that environmental quality suffers the minimum. There are
certain water quality standards for amount of sediments, chemicals, etc which are to be maintained.
Some Water quality Problems
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Lecture 1 BREE 533
A major irrigation project, started in the 1960s in the former Soviet Union, diverted much of the
water from two rivers (Amu Darya and Syr Darya) that feed the Aral Sea. Evaporative losses now
exceed inflows. By 2000, the surface area of the sea nearly half and the volume by about three-
quarters, with the shoreline having receded tens of kilometers.
A sea that had been a productive fishery was reduced to concentrated brine (solution of salt(NaCl)
in water) where very little survives.
Lake Champlain has problem of Blue green algae. Blue green algae blooms often begin as small,
rounded and fuzzy clumps of green in water. As bloom intensifies, the clumps come together coating
the water surface. In areas with very high densities or where algae has washed ashore there may be
paint like bright blue sheen.
Factors Affecting water quality in Canada
Many toxic chemicals, sulphur dioxide, lead, etc present in the air gets entrapped in rain
water along with other natural gases and fall on earth’s surface as rain.
Where the water flows over rocks high in metals, it will dissolve those metals. In the
Canadian Shield, there are large areas with little soil and few soluble minerals.
Consequently, the rivers and lakes in these areas have very low concentrations of dissolved
substances
Urban runoff worsens the water quality in rivers and lakes by increasing the concentrations
of such substances as nutrients (phosphorus and nitrogen), sediments, animal wastes (fecal
coliform and pathogens), petroleum products, and road salts.
Industrial, farming, mining, and forestry activities also significantly affect the quality of
Canadian rivers, lakes, and groundwater. For example, farming can increase the
concentration of nutrients, pesticides, and suspended sediments. Industrial activities can
increase concentrations of metals and toxic chemicals, add suspended sediment, increase
temperature, and lower dissolved oxygen in the water. Each of these effects can have a
negative impact on the aquatic ecosystem and/or make water unsuitable for established or
potential uses.
How water purifies itself
Water is purified in large part by the routine actions of living organisms. Energy from sunlight drives
the process of photosynthesis in aquatic plants, which produces oxygen to break down some of the
organic material such as plant and animal waste. This decomposition produces the carbon dioxide,
nutrients and other substances needed by plants and animals living in the water. The purification
cycle continues when these plants and animals die and the bacteria decompose them, providing new
generations of organisms with nourishment.
But, there are many toxic substances which are affected only slowly, or not at all, by this and other
processes. These are called persistent.
Water Quality Facts
57% of Canadians are served by wastewater treatment plants
Of all Canadians, 26% rely on groundwater for domestic use.
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