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The impact of a sewage treatment plant's effluent on sediment quality in a small bay in Lake Geneva (Switzerland–France). Part 2: Temporal evolution of heavy metals

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The Bay of Vidy is the most contaminated area of Lake Geneva, Switzerland, as a result of the release of treated and untreated waste water from the municipal sewage treatment plant of the city of Lausanne and its surroundings. The reconstruction of the historical deposition of heavy metals in the sediment of the bay has been performed by the analysis of several dated (radiocaesium) sediment cores. The presence of sewage-derived contaminants in the Bay of Vidy since the beginning of the sewage treatment plant's operations in 1964 is clearly observed, when a sharp increase in heavy metal contents is recorded, with maximum concentrations of cadmium, copper, zinc and lead occurring between the late 1960s and early 1970s. Despite considerable improvement in recent times, the present concentrations of the investigated heavy metals in sediments of the Bay of Vidy are still higher than concentrations measured at the centre of the lake, the latter close to Lake Geneva's natural background values. It is concluded that the quantity of heavy metals deposited in the bay is considerable and, because of sediment instability, will constitute a potential hazard for biota.

Keywords: Lake Geneva; heavy metals; pollution; sediment; sediment dating; sewage treatment plant

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: F.-A. Forel Institute, University of Geneva, Versoix, Switzerland, and

Publication date: March 1, 2004


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