Environ Toxicol Chem 2011 May 9;30(5):1127-38. Epub 2011 Mar 9.
University of North Texas, Denton, Texas, USA.
Over the past 20 years, benthic macroinvertebrate community structure studies have been conducted on the upper Trinity River, Texas, USA, which is dominated by municipal wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) and industrial effluents. The Trinity River is located in the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area, and is the most highly populated and industrialized watershed in Texas. As such, the Trinity River represents a near-worst-case scenario to examine the environmental effects of domestic-municipal and industrial effluents on aquatic life. A 1987 to 1988 study concluded that many stretches of the river supported a diverse benthic community structure; however, a decline in taxa richness occurred immediately downstream of WWTPs. A 2005 study designed to parallel the 1987 to 1988 efforts evaluated how changes in water quality, habitat, and increased urbanization impacted benthic community structure. Physicochemical measurements, habitat quality, geospatial variables, and benthic macroinvertebrates were collected from 10 sites. Surfactants were measured and toxic units (TUs) were calculated for surface water and pore water as indicators of domestic/household use of cleaning products. Total TUs indicated a low potential for biological impacts. Toxic unit distribution was not dependent on WWTP location and did not correlate with any benthic variable. Eight environmental parameters were determined to be useful for predicting changes in benthic macroinvertebrate community structure: surfactant surface water TUs (SWTU), in-stream habitat cover, and surface water total organic carbon were the top three parameters. Abundance, taxa richness, and taxa similarity in 2005 had increased since the earlier study throughout the immediate vicinity of the metropolitan area.