Development and Progress in Sediment Quality Assessment: Rationale, Challenges, Techniques & Strategies


Edited by M. MUNAWAR and G. DAVE. SPD Publishers

Reviewed by Prof Dr Gernot Bretschko, Biologische Station Lunz, Austria

This book compiles contributions to the “First International Symposium on Sediment Quality Assessment (Göteborg, August 22 to 25, 1994)”. Quality assessments of aquatic systems concentrate generally on the water phase but importance and possibilities of solids in water are recognized more and more. I. WALLENTINUS stated in his opening remarks that ” …… sediments constitute both a mirror of the past and a destiny for the future …. “. Although there are rich opportunities in aquatic sediments for quality assessments, various methodological and conceptual problems have to be solved first. The book gives a good account of the state of the art and points out the most important research needs, based on studies in rivers, lakes and seas.

The first chapter (three papers) deals with transport, remobilization and bioavailability of metals and organic contaminants. The main body of the book is devoted to the complicated field of bioassessment (second chapter, eleven papers). Methodical difficulties are shown, research needs are formulated and problems of contaminant concentrations and synergistic effects are critically discussed. The third and last chapter (five papers) deals with the global harmonization of standards and regulations. The existing regulations and standards (Europe, Canada, USA) are shortly described together with test trials and the many problems opposing harmonization. The achievement of a global harmonization of the various systems seems to be far off, mainly in the light of bioassessments.

Although the entire book deals with “quality” no effort has been made to define this very relative term. Throughout the book “quality” is used in relation to the presence or concentrations of toxicants or any other pollutants, a very conservative concept. The latter may work quite well in the water phase but in sediments a mere change in the grain size distribution may alter the ecological quality of a certain sediment. Quite a few contributions in the chapter “Bioassessment” consider this. In summary, the book is a very valuable source of informations about an important and rapidly developing topic in limnology.

Use of Algae for Monitoring Rivers II


edited by B. A. Whitton and E. Rott (ISBN 3-9500090-0-2; 1996). (Order from: Dr Eugen Rott, Institut fur Botanik, AG Hydrobotanik, Universitat Innsbruck, Sternwartesstrasse 15, A-6020 Innsbruck, Austria Tel: +43 512 507 5940; Fax: +43 512 293439; e-mail:

Reviewed by Dr. Carolina Loez, Laboratory of Limnology, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Buenos Aires, Pabellón II, Ciudad Universitaria, (1428) Buenos Aires, Argentina (

This book presents the proceedings of the II European Symposium on the “Use of Algae for Monitoring Rivers” held in Innsbruck in 1995. It comprises 28 papers written by scientists from 16 European countries and one from the USA, which are arranged in 6 parts: Standardization, Special methodological approaches to monitoring, Diatom-based monitoring, Monitoring in individual countries, Phytoplankton studies and a Final Discussion. The book not only includes surveys from the participant countries, but also a rich and interesting discussion on the main problems concerning the use of algae for monitoring rivers.

Although the development of standardized indices is still not practicable at this point in time, there seems to be a strong need to establish guidelines for sampling the great variety of European rivers, located in areas ranging from the Arctic Circle to the Mediterranean.

The main difficulty is perhaps the selection of standardized algal (benthic, phytoplanktonic and periphytic) methods to be included in the management programs of the CEE considering the wide variations in both political frameworks and environmental features between countries.

I myself, as a limnologist devoted to the study of phytoplankton communities as markers of pollution, found the book very useful for both teaching and research. Personally, I enjoyed the exchange of ideas as a challenge to find a compromise between the development of “pragmatic” indices-based on a limited number of species allowing for a rapid, accurate, periodic monitoring- and their ecological significance.

This piece of work edited by B. A. Whitton and E. Rott is undoubtedly one of great value for any library or reference collection for limnologists, specially for those interested in algae as ecological indicators for monitoring lotic environments.

Water Analysis User-friendly Field/Laboratory Manual


E.I.L. Silva, S.Y. Namaratne, S.V.R. weerasooriya and L. Manuweera (1996)

ISBN – 955-26-0032-4 Institute of Fundamental Studies, Hantana Road, Kandy, Sri Lanka 193 pages; no price given.

Described by Mary J Burgis

This book has been produced in Sri Lanka with funds from USAID and is an attempt to encourage standardised methods of water quality analysis to be used throughout Sri Lanka. Since, to quote the preface, the “sampling techniques and analytical methods described in this manual are not new but easy to employ and cost-effective.” and “An attempt has also been made to simplify the text …… using a unified format and simple language.” it is likely to be of use in many other places.

“In this manual, priority is given only for sampling of surface water and analysis of important physico- chemical constituents and some bacteriological properties which are commonly used to assess water quality.” Following a General Introduction the chapters are entitled:

  • Analytical Techniques: principles and procedures (15pp)
  • User Maintenance: basic laboratory ware (5pp)
  • Statistics in Water Analysis (12pp)
  • Sampling, Processing and Preservation (4pp)
  • Analytical Procedures (136pp)
  • Laboratory Organization, Data Processing, Quality Control and Dissemination (7pp)

The heart of the book is the chapter on Analytical Procedures and these are grouped into Physical Parameters, Metals, Non-metallic constituents and Microbiological Parameters. These seem to me, as an old fashioned non-chemist, admirably clear and straightforward. For each procedure the working range, detection limit, precision and accuracy are given, as are likely sources of interference. Then follow clearly set out instructions including those for the preparation of standards and reagents, calibration and calculation of the result.

The Bibliography includes references to 17 standard texts on topics covered in this manual.

The one page Appendix gives a summary of units and concentrations including simple explanations of the various units of concentration at the sort of level that I could have done with when teaching freshwater biology to students with almost no science, let alone chemistry!

Water Quality of Sri Lanka – a review of twelve water bodies


E.I.L. Silva (1996) address as for above publication ISBN- 955-26-0033-2

A compilation of background information and data which should be of use to anyone with an interest in any aspect of aquatic biology in Sri Lanka. The water bodies covered are Kelani River, Kelani Estuary, Negombo Lagoon, Bolgoda Lake, Koggala Lagoon, Kotamale Reservoir, Kala Wewa and Rajangana Tank, Kandy Lake, Meda Ela, Hamiliton Canal and Hikkaduwa Marine Sanctuary.

FBA SPECIAL PUBLICATION: The Microbiological Quality of Water

Invited papers from a specialised conference held in London, 12-13 December 1995. Edited by D.W.Sutcliffe on behalf of the Freshwater Biological Assn.

ISBN 0-900386-57-6, Published 1997. 144 pp. Price £32.00 (£24 to members of FBA) including packing and postage (printed paper rate overseas). Order from: Dept DWS (Publications) Freshwater Biological Association The Ferry House, Far Sawrey, Ambleside, Cumbria LA22 0LP, UK