Land Use Impacts on Water Quality of Rivers draining from Mulanje Mountain: A Case of Ruo River in the Southern Malawi
A research study was carried out to determine the effects of different land uses on the water quality of Ruo River. Water sampling was done both in the upper and the middle sections of the river. The water samples were analysed for pH, total dissolved solids (TDS), electrical conductivity (EC), dissolved oxygen (DO), sulphates, chloride, bicarbonates, nitrates, phosphates, fluoride, sodium, potassium, cadmium and Escherichia coli using standard methods. Land uses in the area significantly affected the concentration of EC, TDS, sulphates, potassium and sodium (p ≤ 0.05) while pH, dissolved oxygen, chloride, bicarbonates, nitrates, phosphates and E-coli did not significantly fluctuate with land use changes in the area (p ≥ 0.05). The effect of seasons was significant on pH, dissolved oxygen, phosphates, chloride, bicarbonates and sodium (p ≤ 0.05) but not on electrical conductivity, total dissolved solids, sulphates, nitrates, lead, potassium and e coli in Ruo River. The research recommends an integrated water resources management approach where all users and relevant stakeholders should take an active role in the conservation of Ruo River catchment in order to avoid further degradation of the catchment through different land uses.
Keywords: Ruo River; Mulanje Mountain; Land use changes; Water quality; smallholder farmers; Estate farmers