acid mine drainage - Low pH drainage water from
certain mines usually caused by the oxidation of sulphides to sulphuric
acid. Mine drainage can also contain high concentration of metal ions.
acid rain - Rainfall with a pH
of less than 7.0. One source is the combining of rain and sulphur
dioxide emissions, which are a by-product of combustion of fossil
fuels. Also referred to as acid deposition and wet deposition.
algae - Simple rootless plants that grow in sunlit
waters in relative
proportion to the amounts of nutrients available. They can affect water
quality adversely by lowering the dissolved oxygen in the water. They
are food for fish and small aquatic animals.
algae blooms - Rapid growth of algae on the surface of lakes,
streams, or ponds; stimulated by nutrient enrichment.
alkali - Any strongly basic substance of hydroxide and carbonate,
such as soda, potash, etc., that is soluble in water and increases the pH of a solution.
aquatic ecosystem - Basic ecological unit composed of living and
nonliving elements interacting in an aqueous milieu.
aquifer - The underground layer of water-soaked sand and rock
that acts as a water source for a well; described as artesian
(confined) or water table (unconfined).
arid - Describes regions where precipitation is insufficient in
quantity for most crops and where agriculture is impractical without irrigation.
atmosphere - The layer of gases surrounding the earth and composed
of considerable amounts of nitrogen, hydrogen, and oxygen.
atmospheric water - Water present in the atmosphere either as
a solid (snow, hail), liquid (rain) or gas (fog, mist).
bioaccumulation (bioconcentation) - A term used to describe a
process that occurs when levels of toxic substances increase in
an organism over time, due to continued exposure.
biodegradable - Capable of being broken down by living organisms
into inorganic compounds.
biological diversity (biodiversity) -The variety of different
species, the genetic variability of each species, and the variety of different ecosystems that they form.
biomagnification (biological magnification) - A cumulative increase
in the concentrations of a persistent substance in successively higher levels of the food chain.
biota - Collectively, the plants, microorganisms, and animals
of a certain area or region.
bog - A type of wetland that accumulates
appreciable peat deposits.
It depends primarily on precipitation for its water source and is
usually acidic and rich in plant matter, with a conspicuous mat or
living green moss.
boundary water - A river or lake that is part of the boundary
between two or more countries or provinces that have rights to the water.
climate - Meteorological elements that characterize the average
and extreme conditions of the atmosphere over a long period of
time at any one place or region of the earth's surface.
climate change - The slow variations of climatic characteristics
over time at a given place.
coliform bacteria - A group of bacteria used as an indicator of
sanitary quality in water. Exposure to these organisms in drinking water causes diseases such as cholera.
combined sewers - A sewer that carries both sewage and storm water
condensation - The process by which a vapour
becomes a liquid
or solid; the opposite of evaporation. In meteorological usage, this
term is applied only to the transformation from vapour to liquid.
conservation - The continuing protection and management of natural
resources in accordance with principles that assure their optimum long-term economic and social benefits.
consumptive use - The difference between the total quantity of
water withdrawn from a source for any use and the quantity of water returned to the source; e.g.,
the release of water into the atmosphere; the consumption of water by
humans, animals, and plants; and the incorporation of water into the
products of industrial or food processing.
contaminant - Any physical, chemical, biological, or radiological
substance or matter that has an adverse affect on air, water, or soil.
cooling tower - A structure that helps remove heat from water
used as a coolant; e.g., in electric power generating plants.
cubic metre per second (m3/s) -
A unit expressing rate of discharge, typically used in measuring
streamflow. One cubic metre per second
is equal to the discharge in a stream of a cross section one metre wide
and one metre deep, flowing with an average velocity of one metre per
dam - A structure of earth, rock, concrete, or other materials
designed to retain water, creating a pond, lake, or reservoir.
delta - A fan-shaped alluvial deposit at a river mouth formed
by the deposition of successive layers of sediment.
demand - The numerical expression of the desire for goods and
services associated with an economic standard for acquiring them.
depletion - Loss of water from surface water reservoirs or groundwater
aquifers at a rate greater than that of recharge.
dioxin - Any of a family of compounds known chemically as dibenzo-p-dioxins.
Concern about them arises from their potential toxicity and contamination
in commercial products.
discharge - In the simplest form, discharge means
outflow of water.
The use of this term is not restricted as to course or location, and it
can be used to describe the flow of water from a pipe or from a
drainage basin. Other words related to it are runoff, streamflow, and
dissolved oxygen (DO) - The amount of oxygen freely available
in water and necessary for aquatic life and the oxidation of organic materials.
dissolved solids (DS) - Very small pieces of organic and inorganic
material contained in water. Excessive amounts make water unfit to drink or limit its use in industrial processes.
diversion - The transfer of water from a stream,
or other source of water by a canal, pipe, well, or other conduit to
another watercourse or to the land, as in the case of an irrigation
domestic use - The quantity of water used for household purposes
such as washing, food preparation, and bathing.
dredgeate - The material excavated from lake, river, or channel
bottoms during dredging.
dredging - The removal of material from the bottom of water bodies
using a scooping machine. This disturbs the ecosystem and causes silting that can kill aquatic life.
drought - A continuous and lengthy period during which no significant
precipitation is recorded.
dry deposition - Emissions of sulphur and nitrogen oxides that,
in the absence of water in the atmosphere (i.e., rain), settle to the ground as particulate matter.
dyke - An artificial embankment constructed to prevent flooding.
ecosystem - A system formed by the interaction of a group of organisms
and their environment.
effluent - The sewage or industrial liquid waste that is released
into natural water by sewage treatment plants, industry, or septic tanks.
environment - All of the external factors, conditions, and influences
that affect an organism or a community.
environmental assessment - The critical appraisal of the likely
effects of a proposed project, activity, or policy on the environment, both positive and negative.
environmental monitoring - The process of checking, observing,
or keeping track of something for a specified period of time or at specified intervals.
erosion - The wearing down or washing away of the soil and land
surface by the action of water, wind, or ice.
estuary - Regions of interaction between rivers and
ocean waters, where tidal action and river flow create a mixing of
fresh water and saltwater. These areas may include bays, mouths of
rivers, salt marshes, and lagoons. These brackish water ecosystems
shelter and feed marine life, birds, and wildlife.
eutrophic lake - Shallow, murky bodies of water that have excessive
concentrations of plant nutrients causing excessive algal production.
eutrophication - The natural process by which lakes and ponds
become enriched with dissolved nutrients, resulting in increased growth of algae and other microscopic plants.
evaporation - The process by which a liquid changes to a vapour.
evapotranspiration - The loss of water from a land area through
evaporation from the soil and through plant transpiration.
fen - A type of wetland that accumulates peat deposits. Fens are
less acidic than bogs, deriving most of their water from groundwater
rich in calcium and magnesium.
flood - The temporary inundation of normally dry land areas resulting
from the overflowing of the natural or artificial confines of a river or other body of water.
flood damage - The economic loss caused by floods,
by inundation, erosion, and/or sediment deposition. Damages also
include emergency costs and business or financial losses. Evaluation
may be based on the cost of replacing, repairing, or rehabilitating;
the comparative change in market or sales value; or the change in the
income or production caused by flooding.
flood forecasting - Prediction of stage, discharge,
time of occurrence,
and duration of a flood, especially of peak discharge at a specified
point on a stream, resulting from precipitation and/or snowmelt.
flood fringe - The portion of the floodplain where water depths are shallow and velocities are low.
flood peak - The highest magnitude of the stage of discharge attained
by a flood. Also called peak stage or peak discharge.
floodplain - Any normally dry land area that is susceptible to
being inundated by water from any natural source. This area is usually low land adjacent to a stream or lake.
floodproofing - Any combination of structural and nonstructural
additions, changes, or adjustments to structures that reduce or eliminate flood damage.
floodway - The channel of a river or stream and those parts of
the adjacent floodplain adjoining the channel that are required to carry and discharge the base flood.
flow - The rate of water discharged from a source; expressed in
volume with respect to time, e.g., m3/s.
flow augmentation - The addition of water to a stream, especially
to meet instream flow needs.
food chain - A sequence of organisms, each of which uses the next,
lower member of the sequence as a food source.
food web - The complex intermeshing of individual food chains
in an ecosystem.
fresh water - Water that generally contains less than 1000 milligrams
per litre of dissolved solids such as salts, metals, nutrients, etc.
glacier - A huge mass of ice, formed on land by the compaction
and re-crystallization of snow, that moves very slowly downslope or outward due to its own weight.
greenhouse effect - The warming of the earth's
by a build-up of carbon dioxide or other trace gases; it is believed by
many scientists that this build-up allows light from the sun's rays to
heat the earth but prevents a counterbalancing loss of heat.
groundwater - The supply of fresh water found beneath the earth's
surface (usually in aquifers) that is often used for supplying wells and springs.
groundwater recharge - The inflow to an aquifer.
habitat - The native environment where a plant or animal naturally
grows or lives.
hazardous waste - Waste that poses a risk to human health or the
environment and requires special disposal techniques to make it harmless or less dangerous.
hydroelectricity - Electric energy produced by water-powered turbine
hydrologic cycle - The constant circulation of water from the
sea, through the atmosphere, to the land, and back to the sea by over-land, underground, and atmospheric routes.
hydrology - The science of waters of the earth; water's properties,
circulation, principles, and distribution.
infiltration - The movement of water into soil or
Infiltration occurs as water flows through the larger pores of rock or
between soil particles under the influence of gravity, or as a gradual
wetting of small particles by capillary action.
inflow - The entry of extraneous rainwater into a sewer system
from sources other than infiltration, such as basement drains, sewer holes, storm drains, and street washing.
inorganic - Matter other than plant or animal and not containing
a combination of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, as in living things.
instream use - Uses of water within the stream channel, e.g.,
fish and other aquatic life, recreation, navigation, and hydroelectric power production.
integrated resource planning - The management of two or more resources
in the same general area; commonly includes water, soil, timber, grazing land, fish, wildlife, and recreation.
interbasin transfer - The diversion of water from one drainage
basin to one or more other drainage basins.
irrigation - The controlled application of water to cropland,
hayland, and/or pasture to supplement that supplied through nature.
jökulhlaup - Destructive flood that occurs as the result
of the rapid ablation of ice by volcanic activity beneath the ice of a large glacier.
kilowatt (kW) - A unit of electrical power equal to 1000 watts
or 1.341 horsepower.
kilowatt hour (kWh) - One kilowatt of power applied for one hour.
lagoon - (1) A shallow pond where sunlight, bacterial action,
and oxygen work to purify wastewater. (2) A shallow body of water, often separated from the sea by coral reefs or sandbars.
lake - Any inland body of standing water, usually
fresh water, larger than a pool or pond; a body of water filling a
depression in the earth's surface.
leaching - The removal of soluble organic and inorganic substances
from the topsoil downward by the action of percolating water.
litre - The basic unit of measurement for volume in the metric system; equal to 61.025 cubic inches or 1.0567 liquid quarts.
marsh - A type of wetland that does not accumulate appreciable
peat deposits and is dominated by herbaceous vegetation. Marshes may be either fresh water or saltwater and tidal or non-tidal.
megawatt - A unit of electricity equivalent to 1000 kilowatts.
model - A simulation, by descriptive, statistical, or other means,
of a process or project that is difficult or impossible to observe directly.
NAPLs - Nonaqueous phase liquids; i.e.,
chemical solvents such as trichloroethylene (TCE) or carbon
tetrachloride – often toxic. Many of the most problematic NAPLs are DNAPLs – dense nonaqueous phase liquids.
natural flow - The flow of a stream as it would be
if unaltered by upstream diversion, storage, import, export, or change
in upstream consumptive use caused by development.
navigable waters - Traditionally, waters sufficiently deep and wide for navigation by all, or specific sizes of, vessels.
non-renewable resources - Natural resources that can be used up
completely or else used up to such a degree that it is economically impractical to obtain any more of them; e.g., coal, crude oil, and metal ores.
nutrient - As a pollutant, any element or compound, such as phosphorus
or nitrogen, that fuels abnormally high organic growth in aquatic ecosystems (e.g., eutrophication of a lake).
oligotrophic lake - Deep, clear lakes with low nutrient supplies.
They contain little organic matter and have a high dissolved oxygen level.
organic - (1) Referring to or derived from living organisms. (2) In chemistry, any compound containing carbon.
organism - A living thing.
parts per million (PPM) - The number of "parts" by
of a substance per million parts of water. This unit is commonly used
to represent pollutant concentrations. Large concentrations are
expressed in percentages.
pathogenic microorganisms - Microorganisms that can cause disease
in other organisms or in humans, animals, and plants.
percolation - The movement of water downward through the subsurface
to the zone of saturation.
permafrost - Perennially frozen layer in the soil, found in alpine,
arctic, and antarctic regions.
pesticide - A substance or mixture of substances
preventing, destroying, repelling, or mitigating any pest. Also, any
substance or mixture of substances intended to regulate plant or leaf
growth. Pesticides can accumulate in the food chain and/or contaminate
the environment if misused.
pH - An expression of both acidity and alkalinity on a scale of
0 to 14, with 7 representing neutrality; numbers less than 7 indicate
increasing acidity and numbers greater than 7 indicate increasing alkalinity.
photosynthesis - The manufacture by plants of carbohydrates and
oxygen from carbon dioxide and water in the presence of chlorophyll, using sunlight as an energy source.
phytoplankton - Usually microscopic aquatic plants, sometimes
consisting of only one cell.
plankton - Tiny plants and animals that live in water.
polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) - A group of chemicals found
in industrial wastes.
pond - A small natural body of standing fresh water filling a
surface depression, usually smaller than a lake.
precipitation - Water falling, in a liquid or solid state, from
the atmosphere to a land or water surface.
rain - Water falling to earth in drops that have been condensed
from moisture in the atmosphere.
receiving waters - A river, ocean, stream, or other watercourse
into which wastewater or treated effluent is discharged.
recharge - The processes involved in the addition of water to
the zone of saturation; also the amount of water added.
recyclable - Refers to such products as paper, glass, plastic,
used oil, and metals that can be reprocessed instead of being disposed of as waste.
renewable resource - Natural resource (e.g., tree biomass, fresh water, fish) whose supply can essentially never be exhausted, usually because it is continuously produced.
reservoir - A pond, lake, or basin (natural or artificial) that
stores, regulates, or controls water.
resource - A person, thing, or action needed for living or to
improve the quality of life.
river - A natural stream of water of substantial volume.
river basin - A term used to designate the area drained by a river
and its tributaries.
runoff - The amount of precipitation appearing in
rivers, and lakes; defined as the depth to which a drainage area would
be covered if all of the runoff for a given period of time were
uniformly distributed over it.
saltwater intrusion - The invasion of fresh surface water or groundwater
sanitary sewers - Underground pipes that carry off only domestic
or industrial waste, not storm water.
sediment - Fragmented organic or inorganic material derived from
the weathering of soil, alluvial, and rock materials; removed by erosion and transported by water, wind, ice, and gravity.
sedimentation - The deposition of sediment from a state of suspension
in water or air.
seiche - A periodic oscillation, or standing wave, in an enclosed
water body the physical dimensions of which determine how frequently the water level changes.
septic tank - Tank used to hold domestic wastes when a sewer line
is not available to carry them to a treatment plant; part of a rural on-site sewage treatment system.
sewage - The waste and wastewater produced by residential and
commercial establishments and discharged into sewers.
sewage system - Pipelines or conduits, pumping
mains, and all other structures, devices, and facilities used for
collecting or conducting wastes to a point for treatment or disposal.
sewer - A channel or conduit that carries wastewater and storm
water runoff from the source to a treatment plant or receiving stream.
sewerage - The entire system of sewage collection, treatment,
silt - Fine particles of sand or rock that can be picked up by
the air or water and deposited as sediment.
sludge - A semi-solid residue from any of a number of air or water
solvent - Substances (usually liquid) capable of dissolving or
dispersing one or more other substances.
spoils - Dirt or rock that has been removed from its original
location, destroying the composition of the soil in the process, as with strip-mining or dredging.
spring - An area where groundwater flows naturally onto the land
storm sewer - A system of pipes (separate from sanitary sewers)
that carry only water runoff from building and land surfaces.
stream - Any body of running water moving under gravity flow through
clearly defined natural channels to progressively lower levels.
streamflow - The discharge that occurs in a
natural channel. Although
the term "discharge" can be applied to the flow of a canal, the word
"streamflow" uniquely describes the discharge in a surface stream. The
term "streamflow" is more general than the term "runoff", as streamflow
may be applied to discharge whether or not it is affected by diversion
surface water - All water naturally open to the
lakes, reservoirs, streams, impoundments, seas, estuaries, etc.); also
refers to springs, wells, or other collectors that are directly
influenced by surface water.
suspended solids (SS) - Defined in waste
management, these are small
particles of solid pollutants that resist separation by conventional
methods. Suspended solids (along with biological oxygen demand) are a
measurement of water quality and an indicator of treatment plant
sustainable development - Development that ensures that the use
of resources and the environment today does not restrict their use by future generations.
swamp - A type of wetland that is dominated by woody vegetation
and does not accumulate appreciable peat deposits. Swamps may be fresh water or saltwater and tidal or nontidal.
temperature - The degree of hotness or coldness.
thermal pollution - The impairment of water quality through temperature
increase; usually occurs as a result of industrial cooling water discharges.
toxic - Harmful to living organisms.
transpiration - The process by which water
absorbed by plants, usually through the roots, is evaporated into the
atmosphere from the plant surface, principally from the leaves.
tributary - A stream that contributes its water to another stream
or body of water.
tsunami - A Japanese term that has been adopted to
large seismically generated sea wave capable of considerable
destruction in certain coastal areas, especially where sub-marine
turbidity - Cloudiness caused by the presence of suspended solids
in water; an indicator of water quality.
underground storage tank - A tank located all or partially underground
that is designed to hold gasoline or other petroleum products or chemical solutions.
urban runoff - Storm water from city streets and adjacent domestic
or commercial properties that may carry pollutants of various kinds into the sewer systems and/or receiving waters.
vapour - The gaseous phase of substances that are liquid or solid
at atmospheric temperature and pressure, e.g., steam.
waste disposal system - A system for the disposing of wastes,
either by surface or underground methods; includes sewer systems, treatment works, and disposal wells.
wastewater - Water that carries wastes from homes, businesses,
and industries; a mixture of water and dissolved or suspended solids.
wastewater treatment plant - A facility containing a series of
tanks, screens, filters, and other processes by which pollutants are removed from water.
water (H2O) - An
odourless, tasteless, colourless liquid formed by a combination of
hydrogen and oxygen; forms streams, lakes, and seas, and is a major
constituent of all living matter.
water conservation - The care, preservation, protection, and wise use of water.
water contamination - Impairment of water quality
to a degree that reduces the usability of the water for ordinary
purposes or creates a hazard to public health through poisoning or the
spread of diseases.
water management -The study, planning, monitoring,
of quantitative and qualitative control and development techniques for
long-term, multiple use of the diverse forms of water resources.
water pollution - Industrial and institutional wastes and other
harmful or objectionable material in sufficient quantities to result in a measurable degradation of the water quality.
water quality - A term used to describe the
chemical, physical, and biological characteristics of water with
respect to its suitability for a particular use.
water quality guidelines - Specific levels of water
quality that, if reached, are expected to render a body of water
suitable for its designated use. The criteria are based on specific
of pollutants that would make the water harmful if used for drinking,
swimming, farming, fish production, or industrial processes.
water supply system - The collection, treatment, storage, and
distribution of potable water from source to consumer.
water table - The top of the zone of saturation.
watershed - The land area that drains into a stream.
well - A pit, hole, or shaft sunk into the earth to tap an underground
source of water.
wet deposition - See 'acid rain'
wetlands - Lands where water saturation is the
dominant factor determining the nature of soil development and the
types of plant and animal communities living in the surrounding
environment. Other common names for wetlands are bogs, ponds,
estuaries, and marshes.
withdrawal use - The act of removing water from surface water
or groundwater sources in order to use it.
"To the people of poor nations, we
pledge to work alongside you to make
your farms flourish and LetCleanWatersFlow, to nourish starved
bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy
relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to
suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources
without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change
with it". Source: President Obama, Inaugural Speech, January 20, 2009, Washington, DC, USA.