Health of a water system

By: Wyatt Jernigan and Dana Cyr


The Health of a water system can be affected by many factors including dissolved oxygen, temperature, nitrates, pH and turbidity.

Dissolved Oxygen and Temperature

Dissolved oxygen, also known as DO, can cause stress and possibly death for organisms that live in Lakes and Streams when the levels of DO are below 4.0 mg/L. Temperature changes also affect DO levels. Warm water holds less DO than cold water does therefore the temperature can directly affect the Do levels in a water system.


Nitrates are naturally occurring compounds of Nitrogen and oxygen. Small amounts of these nitrates are normal, but high Nitrate levels in water systems can hurt organisms.


The pH in water systems identifies the base/acid balance of the water. A healthy range for water systems is about 6.5 to 8.5. If the pH is within that range chemicals dissolved in the water is available as nutrients for aquatic organisms. However, a higher or lower pH can disrupt the balance in the water system.


Turbidity is a measure of the concentration of particles suspended in water. High turbidity can reduce light penetration and visibility in the water. Some of the common sources of turbidity are sediments such as silt and clay that are suspennded in the water, trash being dumped by industries, and an abnormal concentration of phytoplankton. A lack of light can negatively affect the health of aquatic organisms living in the water systems.