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Water Quality

Glossary of Water Quality Terms

A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L   M
N   O   P   Q   R   S   T   U   V   W   X   Y   Z  


Words within the definitions which are bold are themselves defined in the glossary.

A

Absorption
     
The incorporation of a substance into the body of another, (see sorption, adsorption).

Accuracy
      This is an indicator of how close a measured value comes to the actual or true value (see               precision).

Acid
      A compound resulting in a pH less than 7 when in aqueous solution, a molecule that can give
      up a proton to a base, accept an unshared pair of electrons from a base or react with a base to       form a salt, a substance that has more free hydrogen ions, H+, than hydroxyl ions, OH-, (see       alkaline).

Acidity
      Having the properties of an acid; a pH less than 7.

Activated carbon
      Pure carbon heated to promote active sites which can adsorb pollutants, used in some water
      treatment
systems to remove certain organic chemicals and radon gas.

Acute toxicity
      As commonly used it is a pronounced effect, severe biological harm or death, produced in an
      organism by a toxicant, a substance or a mixture of substances within a short period of time,         usually 96 hours or less, after exposure. The strict implication is simply one of rapid onset of
      effects, in comparison with the life span of the organism; severity is not necessarily implied. For
      algae and bacteria 96 hours would be a chronic exposure since it would last for several
      generations.

Adhesion
      The molecular attraction exerted between the surfaces of materials in contact, (see cohesion).

Adsorbable organic halides, AOX
      The total of all halogenated organic compounds, particularly that are fluoridated,
      chlorinated
or brominated, (see adsorption, halides).

Adsorption
      The attachment or adhesion of a substance or chemicals generally on the surface of another
      solid material, adsorption is often used to extract pollutants by causing them to be attached to
      materials such as activated carbon, (see sorption).

Aeration
      The addition, by bubbling, mixing or turbulent exposure, of air or oxygen into water, or by
      spraying the water into the air, increasing the dissolved oxygen concentration in the water and
      dissipating or stripping volatile contaminants and other pollutants from the water into the air.

Aerobic
      The presence of gaseous or dissolved oxygen, the presence of or utilizing oxygen, (see
      anaerobic
).

Aesthetic
      Pleasing or acceptable to the senses, primarily taste, odor and vision.

Algae
      A group of chlorophyll-containing, non-flowering plants, mostly aquatic, although many are      
      planktonic
, some species are extremely large.

Algal bloom
      A bloom of algae occurs when their growth is so rapid that they become numerous enough to
      colour a body of water, a population explosion of phytoplankton in response to changing
      environmental conditions, including eutrophication from wastewater and non-point sources,
      blooms can result in oxygen depletion and biological impacts such as fish kills, blooms are often
      the result of urban runoff of lawn fertilizers.

Alkaline
      Having a pH greater than 7, the measurement of constituents in a water supply which determine
      alkaline
conditions, the alkalinity of water is a measure of its capacity to neutralize acids.

Alkalinity
      The measurement of chemicals in a water supply which determine alkaline conditions, the
      alkalinity
of water is a measure of its capacity to neutralize acids.

Alluvial
      Refers to particles carried by running water which are deposited when the flow rate decreases.

Alum
      An aluminum sulphate salt, generally potassium or ammonium is the cation, used to coagulate       particles in water treatment.

Amphipoda
      An Order of Crustacea which includes shrimp, these numerous small, but generally visible,       flea-like organisms which are laterally flattened, are abundant in marine environments.

Ambient
      Refers to natural background conditions in the surrounding environment outside the zone in which       water quality may be influenced by a discharge or source of contamination.

Anadromous
      Ascending from the sea to fresh water for spawning at certain seasons.

Anaerobe
      An organism that can only exist in the absence or near-absence of gaseous or dissolved       oxygen.

Anaerobic
      Denotes absence of gaseous or dissolved oxygen, submerged sediments below a narrow       oxygenated layer may be anaerobic, also refers to metabolic activities, glycolysis, in the       absence of oxygen which occurs in some microorganisms.

Anion
      A negatively charged ion.

Annelids
      A phylum of segmented marine and freshwater worms, distinguished from non-segmented       roundworms and flatworms, (see worms, polychaetes and oligochaetes).

Anoxia
      Absence of oxygen, (see anaerobic, hypoxia).

Anthropogenic
      Having to do with the activities of man as opposed to those of nature, man-made, -modified or
      -influenced.

AOX, Adsorbable organic halides
      The total of all halogenated organic compounds particularly those that are fluoridated,       chlorinated or brominated, (see adsorption, halides).

Aquatic
      Living and growing in or on and generally requiring water, (see freshwater, marine, brackish).

Aqueous
      Water based; an aqueous solution is a solution where water is the solvent.

Aquifer
      Water within the soil or rocks beneath the surface of the earth that supplies wells and springs,       water in the zone of saturation where all openings in rocks and soil are filled with water, the       upper surface of which forms the water table, the streams or pools of water that flow or collect       under the surface of the land and not on the surface, these may be confined if there are layers of       impermeable material both above and below and it is under pressure so that when the aquifer       is penetrated by a well, the water will rise above the top of the aquifer, or unconfined when the       upper water surface, the water table, is at atmospheric pressure, and is able to rise and fall,     
      any geological formation containing or transmitting water, especially one that supplies the water       for wells and springs, use of the term may be restricted to those water-bearing formations       capable of yielding water in sufficient quantity to constitute a usable supply, (see       surfacewater, ground water).

Arithmetic mean
      The average of the sum of all the observations, (see geometric mean).

Artificial recharge
      The process where water is put into ground water, or aquifer, storage from surface water       supplies such as irrigation water, reclaimed wastewater or induced infiltration from streams       or wells.

Aromatic
      A general term that includes the organic compounds containing at least one benzene ring.

Assimilative capacity
      The amount of pollution a water body can receive without noticeable degradation, as a result of       the natural ability of the water and its associated chemical and biological systems to dilute or       transform contaminants.

Atmospheric deposition
      The contribution of atmospheric pollutants or chemical constituents to land or water
      ecosystems, deposition results from materials in rain or snowfall, combined with dry dust fallout,
      atmospheric sources are a significant source of nutrients and contaminant to aquatic
      systems.


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B

Backwashing
      Reversing the flow of water through a water treatment filter or membrane to clean and remove
      deposits.

Bacteria
      Small unicellular organisms lacking a nucleus and some other eukaryotic organelles, they
      may have photosynthetic pigments but lack chloroplasts, the specialized photosynthetic
      organelles
in higher plants, and mitochondria.

Base
      A compound resulting in a pH greater than 7 when in aqueous solution, a molecule that can
      accept a proton from an acid, donate an unshared pair of electrons to an acid or react with an
      acid
to form a salt, a substance that has fewer free hydrogen ions, H+, than hydroxyl ions,
      OH-, (see alkaline).

Base flow
      The volume of flow in a stream or river during dry conditions, as opposed to conditions
       influenced by storm runoff.

Bay
      A relatively small body of water partially isolated from the main portion of the sea, ocean or lake       by a relatively narrow opening or channel.

Beneficial use
      Water used for an anthropogenically accepted purpose such as domestic and municipal       water supply, industry, irrigation, mining, hydroelectric power, navigation, recreation, livestock       raising, aesthetics, aquatic life and wildlife, (see contact recreation, non-contact
      recreation
).

Benthic
      Associated with the sediments on the bottom of a water body

Benthic organism
      Any organism that lives in or near the bottom of a water body or in the sediment.

Benthos
      The organisms that live in or near the bottom of a water body or in the sediment.

Benzene
      An organic compound, a ring molecule of six carbons and six hydrogens with three shared or
      resonant double carbon-to-carbon bonds, known as an aromatic compound.

Bioaccumulation
      The uptake, retention and concentration above background levels of environmental substances
      by an organism from its environment and food, (see biomagnification).

Bioassay
      The quantitative estimation of biologically active substances by the amount of their actions
      under standardized conditions on or in living organisms; often linked, unnecessarily, with drug       testing; some people prefer to simply use toxicity test.

Biochemical oxygen demand, BOD
      A measure of the amount of dissolved oxygen required to completely oxidize the available       organic wastes, a quantitative measure of the degree to which organic compounds consume       oxygen in water, based on a five-day test in which loss of oxygen in a sample results from       bacterial respiration and chemical processes, a traditional water quality measurement applied       to wastewater such as treated sewage.

Bioconcentration
      The increase of a substance or contaminant in a food web such that the organisms eventually       contain higher concentrations of the substance than their food sources, the magnification of             contaminant concentrations in organisms due to increased tissue concentrations at each       successive trophic level in a food chain, generally, but not always, occurs due to a       contaminant being soluble in fatty tissues and not in water. (see bioaccumulation,       biomagnification).

Biomagnification
      The increase of a substance or contaminant in a food web such that the organisms eventually       contain higher concentrations of the substance than their food sources, the magnification of       contaminant concentration in organisms due to increased tissue concentrations at each       successive trophic level in a food chain, generally, but not always, occurs due to a       contaminant being soluble in fatty tissues and not in water, (see bioaccumulation,       bioconcentration).

Biomass
      The total amount of biological material present at any given time or over a defined time period,       (see productivity, standing crop).

Biosolids
      A nutrient-rich organic material resulting from the treatment of wastewater which contains       nitrogen and phosphorus along with smaller amounts of other nutrients, such as potassium,       sulfur, magnesium, calcium, copper and zinc, soil that is lacking in these substances can be       fertilized with biosolids which also improve soil properties and plant productivity reducing       dependence on inorganic fertilizers.

Biota
      All living organisms including bacteria, plants and animals.

Bioturbation
      The disturbance of sediments due to displacement by organisms, bioturbation resulting from       burrowing of organisms in the benthic habitat increases sediment aeration and influences       contaminant equilibria with the overlying water.

Blackwater
      Wastewater from toilets, latrines, privies, water containing feces or body fluids and water from       sinks used for food preparation or disposal of chemical or biological ingredients, (see       greywater).

Blue-green algae
      Prokaryotic organisms with a bacteria-like cell structure, lacking a nucleus and other       organelles, these species manufacture photosynthetic pigments but lack chloroplasts, the       specialized photosynthetic organelles in higher plants, in some situations an increase in
      blue-green algae
can indicate an environmental stress such as pollution.

BOD, Biochemical oxygen demand
      A measure of the amount of dissolved oxygen required to completely oxidize the available       organic wastes, a quantitative measure of the degree to which organic compounds consume       oxygen in water, based on a five-day test in which loss of oxygen in a sample results from       bacterial respiration and chemical processes, a traditional water quality measurement applied to       wastewater such as treated sewage.

Bog
      A wetland that is perched above the watertable and has no direct hydraulic connection to it,       bogs accumulate peat and the vegetation is dominated by sphagnum moss.

Brackish
      Water that is neither fresh water nor marine but a mixture of the two or intermediate in       salinity, usually found in estuaries where the amount of salinity is constantly fluctuating.

Brine
     Highly salty and heavily mineralized water containing heavy metal and organic contaminants.

Brominated
      A compound that has been reacted with the halide bromine and now contains at least one       bromine atom in the molecule.

Buffer
      A compound or solution capable of resisting a change in pH.


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C

Carcinogen
      A substance capable of causing cancer.

Cation
      A positively charged ion.

CFS, Cubic feet per second
      A quantitative measure of the flow, in streams and rivers, it is equal to a volume of water one       foot high and one foot wide flowing a distance of one foot in one second, one cfs is equal to       7.48 gallons of water per second.

CFU, Colony forming units
      A quantitative measure of the concentration of bacteria in a water sample, bacterial       colonies on laboratory media resulting from filtering and culturing bacteria from a water       sample, each colony in the laboratory culture is presumed to have arisen from the multiplication       of a single bacterium in the original sample.

Chlorinated
      A compound that has been reacted with the halide chlorine and now contains at least one       chlorine atom in the molecule.

Chlorination
      The addition of chlorine to water primarily for the purpose of disinfection but also for other
      biological or chemical purposes.

Chlorophenols
      Broad spectrum pesticides produced when phenol rings have a number of chlorine atoms       attached, formerly used in cut lumber treatment to prevent discolouration by fungus, often       associated with pulpmill effluent and wood preservatives.

Chlorophyll
      The coloured pigments, often green, red or brown, found in plants and algae which trap and       convert light energy to chemically stored energy which is then used to create organic molecules       from inorganic raw materials.

Chlorphyll-a
      The primary green-coloured pigment found in plants and algae which traps and converts light       energy to chemically stored energy which is then used to create organic molecules from       inorganic raw materials.

Chloroplasts
      The organelles, in eukaryotic cells that carry out photosynthesis, where the chlorophyll       pigments and related enzymes are located, specialized structures that carry out photosynthesis       in plants and algae.

Chromosomes
      The structures in the nucleus of a eukaryotic cell which carries the DNA or genetic material in
      genes.

Chronic toxicity
      A long-term toxic effect produced in an organism by a toxicant, a substance or a mixture of
      substances.

Cilia
      Many short fine hairs on the cell surface which are used for locomotion or food gathering in many
      microscopic organisms and their larvae.

Ciliate
      Having many cilia on the surface which are used for locomotion or food gathering.

Coagulation
      The use of chemicals to make suspended solids clump together into larger aggregates,       flocs, for easier filtration or sedimentation, coagulation in water treatment uses alum to       congregate solids in the water into a mass that can be readily trapped by a filter, (see       flocculation).

Cohesion
      The molecular attraction by which the particles of a body are united throughout the mass,
      whether like or unlike, (see adhesion).

Coliform
      Non-pathogenic natural gut bacteria monitored when testing water to indicate the possible
      presence of pathogenic bacteria.

Colloids
      Finely divided solids which will not settle out by gravity alone but which may be removed by
      coagulation or biochemical action.

Colony forming units, CFU
      A quantitative measure of the concentration of bacteria in a water sample, bacterial       colonies on laboratory media resulting from filtering and culturing bacteria from a water       sample, each colony in the laboratory culture is presumed to have arisen from the multiplication       of a single bacterium in the original sample.

Combined sewer
      A sewer system that carries both sanitary sewage and stormwater runoff, when sewers are       constructed this way, wastewater treatment plants have to be sized to handle stormwater       flows and often some of the water receives little or no treatment during overflows or bypasses       during extreme storm events, (see separate sewer).

Combined sewer overflow
      A point in a sewer collection system where domestic sewage mixed in varying proportions with
      stormwater overflows to a receiving water body.

Composite sample
      A series of samples taken over space and/or time to determine the average condition of an area
      or a time period, (see grab sample).

Concentration
      Quantitative amount of a solute, chemical or pollutant in a specified volume or weight of       solvent, air, water, soil or other medium, accumulating a level of some material over and above       the level found in the ambient environment, generally applied to an organism.

Condensation
      The change of state from a gas to a liquid, (see evaporation, sublimation, vapourization,       transpiration, evapotranspiration).

Consumptive use
      The quantity of water not available for reuse since it is incorporated into a product or in some       way at least temporarily removed from the water cycle, evapotranspiration, evaporation,       incorporation into plant tissue, infiltration into ground water and consumption by humans,       wildlife or livestock, are some of the reasons water may not be immediately available for reuse.       (see non-consumptive use).

Contact recreation
      Activities involving a significant risk of ingestion of water, such as wading by children, swimming,       water skiing, diving and surfing, human activity involving bodily contact with water and therefore       the potential for increased risk to health when contaminants or pathogens are present, (see       non-contact recreation).

Contaminant
      A substance that causes harm by contact or association, sewage or other materials that will
      render
water unfit for its intended use, anything added to a substance that makes the substance
      impure or unfit for its intended use, (see pollutant).

Contamination
      Introducing a substance into water that causes harm by contact or association, the introduction       into water of sewage or other materials that will render the water unfit for its intended use, (see       pollution).

Copepoda
      Subclass of Crustacea, small aquatic invertebrates that are food for fish, free living forms are       common in benthic and planktonic samples, some species are parasitic.

Crustacean
      A class of segmented Arthropod organisms with an exoskeleton, a pair of appendages on each       segment and two pairs of antennae, includes crabs, lobsters, crayfish, shrimp, wood lice,       barnacles and water fleas or Daphnia.

Cubic feet per second, CFS
      A quantitative measure of the flow, in streams and rivers, it is equal to a volume of water one       foot high and one foot wide flowing a distance of one foot in one second, one cfs is equal to       7.48 gallons of water per second.


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D

Deionized water
      Water free of inorganic chemicals

Delta
      An alluvial deposit consisting of rock particles, sediment and debris, dropped by a stream or       river as it enters another body of water, the fan-shaped deposit where a river discharges to a       larger, slower moving water body, important for wetland habitat values.

Denitrification
      The natural chemical conversion of dissolved nitrite nitrogen to nitrate and finally to gaseous
      nitrogen, removing it from the aquatic system.

Desalination
      The process of salt removal from sea or brackish water, the removal of salts from saline water       to provide fresh water, an increasingly popular way of providing fresh water to coastal       populations.

Designated water use
      A water use that is to be protected at a specific location for such purposes as use by aquatic
      life or wildlife, for irrigation or stock watering, in industrial activities, for recreation or as
      drinking water, (see contact recreation, non-contact recreation).

Detection limit
      The lowest concentration of a substance in water that can be reproducibly determined by a
      specific analytical procedure or test method.

Diatom
      A group of phytoplankton species utilizing silica as a structural component of the cell wall, a       dominant component of the plankton population in many areas.

Diffuser
      A structure composed of perforated pipes, placed at the end of an outfall pipe, which is
      designed to spread the effluent widely so as to facilitate dilution.

Dilution
      The process of mixing a liquid, usually water, that has a lower concentration of a substance or       pollutant with effluent containing the substance or pollutant, or the pollutant or substance       itself, such that the final concentration after mixing is lower than that in the effluent or of the       pure substance.

Dinoflagellate
      A unicellular, generally motile species of planktonic algae with two whip-like flagella arranged       in a characteristic pattern, this group includes some common plankton species and also red       tide organisms such as Gonyaulax monilata and Ptychodiscus brevis.

Dioxins
      Toxic organic compounds containing a specific complex aromatic ring structure and
      containing at least one chlorine atom in the molecule, (see furans).

Diploid
      The condition when there are two complimentary sets of chromosomes in a cell which occurs       after fertilization and remains so until the cell undergoes meiosis to form haploid eggs and       sperm.

Discharge
      The release of water which may or may not contain waste into the environment, often via a pipe       or ditch into a stream, the volume of water that passes a given point within a given period of time,       an all-inclusive outflow term, describing a variety of flows such as from a pipe to a stream or       from a stream to a lake or ocean, usually expressed in cubic feet per second.

Disinfectant
      A chemical usually an oxidant, such as chlorine, chloramine, ozone, hydrogen peroxide or       potassium permanganate, or radiation, such as ultraviolet light or ionizing radiation which       destroys pathogens in water, a substance or action used to purify a medium and kill or       inactivate infectious organisms, chlorine is currently the most common disinfectant used with       water.

Disinfection
      The process of destroying microorganisms in water by the application of a disinfectant, killing       most of the harmful and objectionable bacteria in sewage or drinking water usually       accomplished by introduction of chlorine or exposure to ultraviolet radiation which sterilizes       the bacteria.

Disinfection byproducts
      Chlorinated organic chemicals, including trihalomethanes, are formed when water containing       organic materials is disinfected with chlorine, these compounds are toxic, the formation of       these compounds can be minimized by filtering or otherwise removing the organic compounds       before chlorination.

Dispersion
      The movement and spreading of contaminants from the point of introduction in an aquifer or
      surface water body.

Dissolve
      The process by which solid particles separate from the mass and mix molecule by molecule with       a liquid and appear to become part of the liquid.

Dissolved
      Separated into individual atoms or molecules and dispersed in a liquid like water.

Dissolved metals
      In a liquid, metals which pass through a filter of a designated pore size, are assumed for       environmental purposes to be dissolved.

Dissolved organic matter, DOM
      Carbon compounds in water solution, generally from the decomposition of natural plant and       animal tissues, but including some anthropogenic contaminants.

Dissolved oxygen, DO
      The amount of oxygen gas dissolved in a given quantity of water at a given temperature and       atmospheric pressure, usually expressed as a concentration in parts per million, ppm, or as a       percentage of saturation.

Dissolved oxygen deficit, DO deficit
      The difference between the oxygen saturation value in water as calculated for the measured       conditions at the point and time of sampling, and the actual oxygen concentration, the measure       is useful because it corrects for temperature, salinity, and atmospheric pressure which influence       the saturation level, a high deficit can be an indicator of a water quality problem.

Dissolved solids
      Inorganic material dissolved in water or liquid wastes, excessive dissolved solids make water
      unsuitable for drinking or industrial uses, (see TDS, total dissolved solids).

DO, Dissolved oxygen
      The amount of oxygen gas dissolved in a given quantity of water at a given temperature and       atmospheric pressure, usually expressed as a concentration in parts per million, ppm, or as a       percentage of saturation.

DO deficit, Dissolved oxygen deficit
      The difference between the oxygen saturation value in water as calculated for the measured       conditions at the point and time of sampling, and the actual oxygen concentration, the measure       is useful because it corrects for temperature, salinity, and atmospheric pressure which influence       the saturation level, a high deficit can be an indicator of a water quality problem.

DOM, Dissolved organic matter
      Carbon compounds in water solution, generally from the decomposition of natural plant and       animal tissues, but including some anthropogenic contaminants.

Domestic
      Of or related to a household or dwelling as opposed to an industry.

Domestic water use
      Water used for household purposes, such as drinking, food preparation, bathing, washing       clothes, dishes and dogs, flushing toilets and watering lawns and gardens, most domestic       water is delivered to homes by a public water supply facility.

Drainage area
      The drainage area of a stream or river at a specified location is that area, measured in a       horizontal plane, enclosed by a topographic divide from which direct surface runoff normally       drains by gravity into the stream above the specified location.

Drainage basin
      The land area where precipitation runs off into streams, rivers, lakes and reservoirs, a land       feature that can be identified by tracing a line along the highest elevations between two areas on       a map, often a ridge, large drainage basins contain many smaller drainage sub-basins, (see       watershed).

Drawdown
      A lowering of the ground water surface caused by pumping from an aquifer or lowering the
      water surface in a reservoir by releasing water either through the turbine or outlet pipes or over
      the spillway.

Drinking water
      A water supply, treated or untreated which is intended for human consumption and uses and       which is considered to be free of toxins and pathogenic bacteria, cysts or viruses, potable       water, fit to drink, potable water that has or is to be treated additionally, to enhance aesthetic       quality and/or reduce mineral content plus other known or unknown, undesirable substances: by       one or more point-of-use water processing devices or systems or purified bottled water.

Dyne
      Metric unit of force, energy needed to accelerate 1 gram at 1 centimetre/second2.


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E

Effluent
      The out-flow water or waste water from any water processing system or device, softeners,       filters or reverse osmosis units, the product water of a given water treatment system,       alternatively a general term in waste water treatment for the final water which is discharged       from a treatment plant, usually into a natural flowing river or stream, after complete treatment       steps which meet current effluent water quality standards, effluent water is often recycled       as irrigation water for golf courses, parklands and some agricultural applications, particularly a       liquid, that enters the environment from a point source, generally refers to wastewater from a       sewage treatment or industrial plant.

Egg
      A large immobile gamete produced by the female organism which contains one haploid set of       chromosomes and unites with the sperm to bring about fertilization.

Electrodialysis
      The salts are extracted from the water by using a membrane with an electrical current to       separate the ions, positive ions go through one membrane, while the negative ions flow through       a different membrane, leaving the fresh water behind.

Emergent wetlands
      Marshes
in which vegetation is rooted underwater with only the tops exposed, in contrast to
      fully submerged aquatic vegetation or upland habitats where the roots are also above the water
      surface.

Enteric
      Associated with the gut or intestines of animals or gut products such as feces.

Enteric viruses
      A group of viruses associated with human feces found in water.

Enterocci
      Bacteria
species which live in the gut of man or other homeothermic animals, some are       pathogens, often used instead of fecal coliform bacteria as an indicator of water       contamination.

Epibenthic
      Located at the surface of the sediments, generally referring to algae.

Epilimnion
      The upper, warmer, less dense zone of water in a lake, separated by the fairly thin thermocline       zone, from the lower, colder, denser zone of water, the hypolimnion.

Erg
      Metric unit of work, 1 dyne over a distance of 1 centimetre.

Erosion
      The wearing away of the land surface by wind, water, ice or other geologic agents, occurs       naturally from weather or runoff but is often intensified by human land use practices, erosion is       a source of sediments, suspended sediments, TDS, total dissolved solids, particulate       matter turbidity and solutes in natural waters.

Estuary, Estuaries, Estuarine zone
      The lower portion of a river where the ocean and the river mix, the semi-enclosed zone along a       coastline where fresh water meets and mixes with the ocean, such as a bay, mouth of a river,       salt marsh or lagoon, deepwater tidal habitat and tidal wetland, they are usually partially       enclosed by land but have free access to the ocean and are at least occasionally diluted by       fresh water runoff from the land.

Eukaryotic
      Organisms whose cells have a nucleus, chloroplasts in plants and mitochondria, (see
      prokaryotic).

Euphotic
      The surface layer of an ocean, lake, or other body of water into which light can penetrate, also       known as the zone of photosynthesis.

Eutrophic
      Having a large or excessive supply of plant nutrients, nitrates and phosphates, usually resulting
      in an increase in biomass and productivity, (see oligotrophic).

Eutrophication
      The process of increasing the nutrients, primarily nitrate and phosphate, content of natural       waters, usually resulting in an increase in biomass and productivity of algae which may result       in the depletion of the oxygen concentration in the water leading to a fish kill, from natural       erosion and runoff from the land or from anthropogenic sources.

Evaporation
      The change of state from a liquid to a gas, the change by which any substance is converted from       a liquid state and carried off as a vapor, the process of liquid water becoming water vapor from       water surfaces, land surfaces and snow fields, (see condensation, sublimation,       vapourization, transpiration, evapotranspiration, volatilization).

Evapotranspiration
      The combination of evaporation and transpiration of water into the atmosphere from living
      plants, the water surface and soil.


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F

Fecal
      Refers to waste matter, feces, from the gut or gastrointestinal tract of animals.

Fecal coliform bacteria
      Enteric bacteria
which ferment lactose with gas and acid formation at a temperature typical of       warm-blooded animals, in water, fecal coliforms are commonly used as an indicator of       contamination and are normally measured using filtration and culture on disk media, the       portion of the coliform bacteria group which is present in the intestinal tracts and feces of       warm-blooded animals, a common pollutant in water, (see most probable number, MPN).

Fen
      A wetland that is at the water table and has a direct hydraulic connection to it, fens
      accumulate peat and the vegetation is dominated by sphagnum moss and small herbs.

Fertilization
      The process where haploid eggs and sperm unite to form a diploid zygote and begin a new
      generation.

Filter
      A device used to remove solids from a mixture or to separate materials, materials are frequently       separated from water using filters, a screening device or porous substance used as a strainer       for removing solid material from liquids.

Filtering, Filtration
      Passing a solvent with particulate material suspended in it through a material which allows the       solvent to pass but retains the particulates, the mechanical process which removes       particulate matter by separating water from solid material, by passing it through a filter such as       sand in many water filtration plants.

Flagella
      Several long stout hairs on the cell surface which are used for locomotion or food gathering in
      many microscopic organisms and their larvae.

Flagellate
      Having several long stout hairs on the cell surface which are used for locomotion or food       gathering.

Flocculation
      A large scale treatment process involving gentle stirring whereby small particles in flocs are       collected into larger particles so their weight causes them to settle to the bottom of the       treatment tank, (see coagulation).

Flood
      An overflow or inundation that comes from a river or other body of water and causes or threatens
      damage, it can be any relatively high streamflow overtopping the natural or artificial banks in any
      reach of a stream, also a relatively high flow as measured by either gauge height or discharge
      quantity.

Flood plain
      A strip of relatively flat and normally dry land alongside a stream, river or lake that is covered       by water during a flood, land next to a river that becomes covered by water when the river       overflows its banks.

Fluoridated
      A compound that has been reacted with the halide fluorine and now contains at least one
      fluorine atom in the molecule.

Flow
      The quantitative rate of water discharged from a source, or passing by a given point,       expressed as volume per unit of time, (see CFS, cubic feet per second).

Flushing
      A measure of how often, usually measured in years, water is replaced in a reservoir, bay or
      other system, based upon flow rates into and out of the system, (see residence time).

Food chain
     The transfer of food energy from producers through a series of consumers.

Food web
      A series of inter-connecting and inter-related food chains.

Fraser River Estuary
      The area of joint social, economic and environmental concerns which, for the purposes of the       FREMP Agreement, means in general, the land and water outside the boundary of the dykes and       between Kanaka Creek and the outlet from Pitt Lake in the east, the estuary drop off in the west,       Point Grey to the north, and the international boundary to the south, including Boundary Bay and       Semiahmoo Bay.

Fresh water
      Lakes and rivers running off the land to the sea and having much lower solute concentrations       than the ocean into which most eventually drain, water containing less than 1,000 parts per       million, ppm of dissolved solids of any type, water that contains less than 1,000 milligrams per       liter, mg/L, of dissolved solids, generally, more than 500 mg/L of dissolved solids is undesirable       for drinking and many industrial uses, (see saline water).

Freshet
      An influx of freshwater inflow, for example following seasonally high rain and snowfall or the
      spring melt.

Freshwater
      An adjective to describe water that meets the definition of fresh water.

Fully recorded
      The situation where all the available water in a waterbody is allocated or authorized for use       through licences.

Fungi, fungus
      A major group of multicellular organisms that are non-photosynthetic and often saprophytic,
      pathogenic or parasitic.

Furans
      Toxic organic compounds containing a specific complex aromatic ring structure and
      containing at least one chlorine atom in the molecule, (see dioxins).


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G

Gamete
      Sperm produced by the male organism or eggs produced by the female organism, which contain
      one haploid set of chromosomes, they unite to cause fertilization and a diploid zygote.

Gastropod
      Organisms in the Class Gastropoda of the Phylum Mollusca, the snails and similar organisms       with an asymmetrical, spirally-coiled shell.

Geometric mean
      The Nth root of the product of N observations, (see arithmetic mean).

Grab sample
      A single sample taken at a given place and time, (see composite sample).

Green Algae
      A common algae group, often green in colour, with nucleated cells and photosynthetic       pigments contained in organelles called chloroplasts.

Greywater
      Wastewater from clothes washing machines, showers, bathtubs, handwashing, lavatories and       sinks that are not used for disposal of chemical or chemical-biological ingredients or feces, (see       blackwater).

Ground water
      Water within the earth that supplies wells and springs, water in the zone of saturation where all       openings in rocks and soil are filled, the upper surface of which forms the water table, water       that flows in aquifers under the surface of the land and not on the surface, water that flows or       seeps downward and saturates soil or rock, the upper surface of the saturated zone is called       the water table, water beneath the surface of the ground, consisting largely of surface water       that has seeped down, water beneath the earth's surface, occurring in aquifers at one or more       depth levels, (see surface water).

Ground water hydrology
      The branch of hydrology that deals with ground water, its occurrence and movements, its       replenishment and depletion, the properties of rocks that control ground water movement and       storage and the methods of investigation and utilization of ground water.

Ground water recharge
      The inflow of water to a ground water reservoir, primarily from the surface, infiltration of rain       and snowfall and its movement to the water table is one form of natural recharge, the volume of       water added by this process, (see ground water).

Ground water reservoir
      An aquifer or aquifer system in which ground water is stored, water may be placed in the
      aquifer by artificial or natural means.


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H

Habitat
      
A place within an ecosystem with a particular kind of environment whereby organisms,
      populations or communities live, feed, reproduce or grow.

Halide
      One of the very reactive elements in column 7 of the periodic table that are only one electron       short of a full outer orbital, primarily fluorine, chlorine and bromine.

Halogenated
      A compound that has been reacted with, and now contains, one of the elements in column 7 of       the periodic table that are only one electron short of a full outer orbital, primarily fluorine, chlorine       and bromine.

Haploid
      The condition when there is only one set of chromosomes in a cell which occurs after meiosis
      to form eggs and sperm.

Hard water
      Water containing a high level of calcium, magnesium, and other minerals, hard water reduces       the cleansing power of soap and produces scale in hot water lines, boilers and appliances.

Hardness (water)
      A condition caused predominantly by dissolved salts of calcium, magnesium and iron, such as       bicarbonates, carbonates, sulfates, chlorides and nitrates, a water-quality indicator of the       concentration of alkaline salts in water, hard water requires more soap, detergent or       shampoo to raise a lather.

Headwaters
      The source and upper reaches of a stream, also the upper reaches of a reservoir, the water       upstream from a structure or point on a stream, the small streams that come together to form a       river, any and all parts of a river basin except the mainstream river and main tributaries.

Heavy metals
      Metallic elements of high molecular weight, typically with specific gravities greater than 5, a few
      examples include copper, lead and zinc.

Hepatic
      With reference to the liver.

Hermaphrodite
      An organism containing functional male and female reproductive organs.

Homeothermic
      Animals which control their own body temperature at some fixed value, warm-blooded animals,
      (see poikilothermic).

Hydraulic
      Related to water and the flows and pressures within a connected water-containing system.

Hydrograph
     A chart that measures the amount of water flowing past a specified point as a function of time.

Hydrologic
      With reference to water and the water cycle in the environment.

Hydrologic cycle
      The natural pathway water follows as it changes between liquid, solid, and gaseous states;       biogeochemical cycle that moves and recycles water in various forms through the environment,       evaporation from oceans to the atmosphere, rain and snowfall to the earth's surface,       replenishment of ground water, runoff, uptake by plants, and storage in oceans and ice caps,       the movement of water from the atmosphere to the earth and its return to the atmosphere through       condensation, precipitation, evaporation and transpiration, the cyclic transfer of water from       the Earth's surface via evapotranspiration into the atmosphere, from the atmosphere via       precipitation back to earth, and through runoff into streams, rivers, and lakes and ultimately       into the oceans, (see water cycle).

Hydrology
      The science that deals with the hydrologic cycle or water cycle in the environment-land, soil       and atmosphere; properties, distribution and circulation of water.

Hydrophobic
      Literally, hating water, materials that do not dissolve in water but tend to dissolve in organic       solvents and fats or sorb to sediments, (see hydrophyllic).

Hydrophyllic
      Literally, loving water materials that do dissolve in water not in organic solvents and fats and       are found in the water column, (see hydrophobic).

Hypolimnion
      The colder, lower, denser zone of water in a lake, separated by the fairly thin thermocline zone,       from the upper, warmer, less dense zone, the epilimnion.

Hypoxia
      Depletion of dissolved oxygen in water to low levels, for example less than two mg/L, which can       result from natural or human introduction of materials with a high BOD or from eutrophication       resulting from high nutrient concentrations, (see anoxia, anaerobic).


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I

Impermeable
      A surface or membrane through which water, or other liquids, will not penetrate, a layer of solid       material, such as rock or clay, which does not allow water to pass through, any material that       does not permit fluids to penetrate.

Impervious
      A material through which water, or other liquids, will not penetrate and thus must run off over the       surface or accumulate on the top, surfaces with a low capacity for soil infiltration, paving, roofs,       roadways or other human structures, impervious cover increases runoff and affects the       quantity and composition of non-point source pollution, the quality or state of being       impermeable, resisting penetration by water or plant roots.

Indicator organism
      Microorganisms, such as coliform bacteria, that are not in themselves harmful but whose       presence is indicative of possible pollution or the presence of other more harmful       microorganisms which, through its population size or condition, mirrors environmental       conditions within an ecosystem.

Indicator tests
      Tests for a specific contaminant, organism, group of contaminants or constituent which
      signals the presence of something else, coliforms indicate the possible presence of other
      pathogenic bacteria, tests for a specific contaminant, or constituent which signals the
      possible presence of something else.

Industrial water use
      Water used for industrial purposes in such industries as steel, chemical, paper and petroleum
      refining, primarily from private sources, such as local wells or withdrawal points in a river, but
      some comes from public sources.

Infiltration
      Flow of water from the land surface into the subsurface.

Initial dilution zone
      Areas immediately adjacent to a wastewater discharge in which chronic water quality       objectives for water or sediment, but not those for fish, may be exceeded; however, they may       not exceed the acute objectives; they are defined on a site-specific basis and may not       encroach on water intakes, bathing beaches, shellfish beds, fish spawning and rearing areas,       areas of sensitive aquatic vegetation or other specified sensitive areas.

Injection well
      A well constructed for the purpose of injecting treated wastewater directly into the ground,       wastewater is generally pumped into the well for dispersal or storage into a designated       aquifer, one that does not deliver drinking water, an unused aquifer or below the levels of       fresh water.

Inorganic chemicals or compounds
      Usually chemicals or compounds which do not contain carbon atoms or if so the carbon atoms       are not connected directly to each other in long chains, generally substances not made by living       organisms.

Instream use
      Use of water that does not require withdrawal or diversion from its natural watercourse, the use
      of water for navigation, recreation and habitat for fish and wildlife, (see contact recreation,
      non-contact recreation).

Intake
      The place at which a fluid is taken into a channel or pipe, the location where water is withdrawn
      from a stream.

Invertebrate
      An organism without a backbone.

Ion
      A negatively or positively charged atom or molecule which has either an excess or shortage,
      respectively, of electrons.

Irrigation water
      Water application on lands to assist in the growing of crops and pastures or to maintain       vegetative growth in recreational lands, such as parks and golf courses, water which is applied to       assist crops in areas or during times where rainfall is inadequate, the controlled application of       water for agricultural purposes through man-made systems to supply water requirements not       satisfied by rainfall.

Isopod
      A member of the Crustacean Order Isopoda, small but generally visible species flattened from
      top to bottom, common benthic and epibenthic invertebrates.


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J

Jet
      A concentrated, high velocity flow of water capable of causing erosion, used in mining some
      placer deposits to wash the unconsolidated deposits into sluice boxes.

Joule
      The metric unit of work or energy, 1 x 107 ergs, 1 joule is about 0.7375 foot-pounds.


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K

Kilifish
      Small oviparous Cyprinodontidae or ovoviviparous Poeciliidae, fish used in bioassays and for
      mosquito control or as bait.


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L

Lacustrine
      Relating to a lake environment.

Lagoon
      A shallow pond where sunlight, bacterial action and oxygen work to purify wastewater,       typically used for the storage of wastewaters, sludges, liquid wastes or spent nuclear fuel, a       shallow sound, channel or pond, near and generally connected to, a larger body of water.

Lake
      A generally permanent inland body of fresh water of considerable size occupying a basin or
      hollow in the earth's surface.

Larva
      Singular, the pre-adult form in which some animals with multiple life stages hatch from the egg.

Larvae
      Plural, the pre-adult form in which some animals with multiple life stages hatch from the eggs.

Leachate
      Water containing contaminants which leaks from a disposal site such as a landfill or dump.

Leaching
      Extraction or flushing out of dissolved or suspended materials from the soil, solid waste or       another medium by water or other liquids as they percolate down through the medium to       ground water or flow laterally through the waste material, the process by which soluble       materials in the soil, such as salts, nutrients, pesticide chemicals or contaminants, are       washed into a lower layer of soil or are dissolved and carried away by water.

Lentic
      Static or standing, non-flowing waters such as lakes, ponds and reservoirs, (see lotic).

Limnology
      The scientific study of physical, chemical and biological conditions and interactions in lentic
      systems, lakes, ponds and reservoirs.

Littoral zone
      Area on or near the shore of a body of water in relatively shallow water.

Livestock water use
      Water used for livestock watering, feed lots, dairy operations, fish farming, and other on-farm
      needs.

Loading
      The rate of introduction of a constituent or contaminant to a receiving water from the       environment, significant in relation to the volume and circulation of the receiving water, problems       occur when high loadings occur into receiving waters with limited assimilative capacity.

Lotic
      A flowing body of fresh water, such as a river or stream, (see lentic).


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