The effects of powerboat emissions on the water quality of Loch Lomond
Recently, there has been increased concern about the potential impact of powerboating on freshwater ecosystems. In the case of Loch Lomond, such concern led to the commencement of a programme of boat counting surveys in 1989. In these surveys, it was found that maximum boat numbers are increasing in Loch Lomond. As a logical progression from these surveys, the present study examined the impact of powerboat chemical pollution on the water quality of Loch Lomond. In the first stage of this study, the scale of powerboat pollution was assessed. This was achieved by constructing a simple mathematical model to estimate the total annual discharge of hydrocarbons (HCs) from powerboat emissions into Loch Lomond. By using boat census data and published information about the emission rates of different types of powerboat engines, the total annual input for Loch Lomond was estimated at 25.50 tonnes in 1989 and this input has greatly increased since then. This indicates that there is real potential for hydrocarbon (HC) pollution of Loch Lomond from powerboat operation. Most of the HC material discharged emanated from speedboats powered by outboard motors. To identify and quantify HC pollutant compounds entering water from outboard engines, Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS) analysis was performed on water subject to a controlled pollution discharge from an outboard motor. Altogether, 47 compounds were detected in this exhaust-polluted water (EPW), with most of these being volatile aromatic HCs, such as benzene and alkylated benzenes. Water samples were also taken from three sites in Loch Lomond on two occasions: once in winter, during negligible boat activity and once in summer, at a time of high powerboat activity. No HCs were detected in winter, but some volatile aromatic HC compounds were clearly detectable in summer. These compounds were the same as those most abundant in EPW and found in similar relative proportions. Further experiments in this study involved the analysis of a large number of water samples. To enable this, it was necessary to develop an appropriate new method for the analysis of powerboat exhaust pollutants, which are mostly aromatic HC. All aromatic HCs fluoresce and the new method involved fluorescence spectroscopy analysis, following sample purification by normal-phase column chromatography. This technique is non-destructive allowing subsequent confirmatory analysis by GC-MS. It was found that the new method was fast, precise, highly sensitive and specific to volatile aromatic HCs. The capability of measuring HCs in a large number of samples allowed previously unfeasible experiments investigating: 1) The geographical distribution of powerboat exhaust HCs in Loch Lomond. 2) The depth profile of powerboat exhaust pollutants in the top 1.5 m of the water column. 3) Recovery of water quality, following peak weekend boat activity in summer. It was found that: 1) Volatile aromatic HCs from powerboat exhaust are detectable over much of Loch Lomond on days of heavy powerboat activity, with concentrations of up to 37 ug.l" occurring. 2) Pollutant HCs are found at depths of at least 1.5 m, and are not confined to the surface microlayer (100 urn), The HC distribution with depth was mostly uniform in the field and this was confirmed in controlled experiments in a tank. 3) Recovery of water quality was difficult to demonstrate in the field, possibly as pollution incidents occur continually during summer. 4) HC concentration declined in controlled experiments, in which water was subjected by a controlled pollution discharge from an outboard motor. The time taken for the HC concentration to reach 50 % of the initial HC loading varied but was approximately 7 - 9 days. The toxicity of EPW was investigated by performing 24 hour LC50 (Lethal Concentration for 50 % of test organisms) tests, using the water flea, Daphnia magna (an international standard test organism). The mean LC50 recorded in this study, expressed as the total concentrations ofHC compounds, was 3.72 mg.l". Previous studies suggest that multiplying the Le50 for D. magna by an application factor of 0.001 gives an approximate safe level of a pollutant. Using data collected in this study, a safe level of exhaust He compounds of 3.72 Jlg.r1 would result. In summer, during times of high powerboat activity, such levels are exceeded at many locations in Loch Lomond. The current study has shown that He pollution from a relatively small number of inefficient powered recreational craft using Loch Lomond poses a potential threat to the maintenance of water quality.