Catchment-scale fluorescence water quality determination

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Chemical water quality determinants and river water fluorescence were determined on the River Tyne, northeast England. Statistically significant relationships between nitrate (r = 0.87), phosphate (r = 0.80), ammonia (r = 0.70), biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) (r = 0.85) and dissolved oxygen (r = -0.65) and tryptophan-like fluorescence intensity were observed. The strongest correlations are between tryptophan-like intensity and nitrate and phosphate, which in the Tyne catchment derive predominantly from point and diffuse source sewage inputs. The correlation between BOD and the tryptophan-like fluorescence intensity suggests that this fluorescence centre is related to the bioavailable or fluorescence intensity and ammonia concentration and dissolved oxygen. The weaker correlation with ammonia is due to good ammonia treatment within the wastewater treatment plants within the catchment, and that with dissolved oxygen due to the natural aeration of the river such that this is not a good indicator of water quality. Mean annual tryptophan-like fluorescence intensity, measured by both bench and portable spectrometers, agrees well with the General Water Quality Assessment as determined by the England and Wales environmental regulators, the Environment Agency.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-207
Number of pages9
JournalWater Science and Technology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2005


  • tryptophan, water quality, DO, fluorescence, phosphate, ammonia, nitrate, BOD