The water quality degradation of upper Awash River, Ethiopia
Benthic macroinvertebrate based assessment of water quality in the upper Awash River, along the river course of about 500 kms was conducted on quarterly bases between September 2009 and August 2010. This paper reports the complete identification of macroinvertebrates together with measurements of physico-chemical parameters and heavy metal concentrations which were considered as a tool for assessing the water quality status of upper Awash river, Ethiopia. Benthic animals and water samples were collected from three different sampling sites located in the upper Awash River, and analyzed to evaluate stressor sources and the general stream water quality. The percentage abundance of families of various macroinvertebrates taxonomic groups was identified from all sites. Accordingly, Koka bridge site of the upper Awash River had low water quality status which is likely to be due to poor farming, untreated effluents from factories and poor provision of sanitation facilities to the riparian communities. Apparently, the concentrations of the selected nutrients and heavy metals did not differ significantly among the sampling sites (ANOVA, P > 0.05), presumably due to pollution of the whole stream reach by the catchment nutrient sources. Ten orders of benthic macroinvertebrates consisting of 36 families were identified. The highest family richness was observed in Ginchi, slightly impacted site (1) whilst the least faunal diversity was observed in Koka Bridge (7 families) indicating the effect of water quality class differences among the sampling sites.
Key words: Macroinvertebrates, organic pollution, heavy metals, water quality, anthropogenic impact, upper Awash River