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What is turbidity and why is it a problem?

Turbidity refers to the clarity of the water. The greater the amount of total suspended solids (TSS) in the water, the murkier it appears and the higher the measured turbidity.

The major source of turbidity in the open water zone of most lakes is typically phytoplankton, but closer to shore, particulates may also be clays and silts from shoreline erosion, resuspended bottom sediments (which can turn the water in your favorite lake brown on a windy day), and organic debris from stream and/or wastewater discharges.

Dredging operations, increased flow rates, floods, or even too many bottom-feeding fish can stir up bottom sediments and increase the cloudiness of the water.

High concentrations of particulate matter can alter light penetration, cause shallow lakes and bays to fill in faster, and smother habitats - impacting both organisms and eggs.

As particles of silt, clay, and other organic materials settle to the bottom, they can suffocate newly hatched larvae and fill in spaces between rocks which could have been used by aquatic organisms as habitat.

Fine particulate material also can clog or damage sensitive gill structures, decrease their resistance to disease, prevent proper egg and larval development, and potentially interfere with particle feeding activities. Reduced photosynthesis can also result in a lower daytime release of oxygen into the water.

For more detailed descriptions of the causes and effects of turbidity, check out Water on the Web.

More information on Gunderboom Turbidity Barrier Selection

Gunderboom’s Particulate Control System and Reservoir Protection System can help you clear the water.