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Benthic Ecosystem Changes Associated with Wastewater Treatment at Marseille: Implications for the Protection and Restoration of the Mediterranean Coastal Shelf Ecosystems

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Since 1965, macrobenthic communities have been studied in the area surrounding the sewer outfall of Marseille, France. The polluted zone increased by a factor of 3 and the subnormal zone increased by a factor of 10 between 1970 and 1980. After construction of a primary treatment plant in 1987, the macrobenthos of the polluted zone decreased significantly in terms of number of individuals. This decrease was apparently caused by a reduction of organic matter discharged to the sea and was particularly notable near the discharge. However, composition of communities began to change in 1992 to 1993. Benthic samples taken at depths of 35, 39, and 51 m in July 1994 and January 1995 indicated a recovery of parts of a polluted zone to a community resembling the subnormal zone. Most notable is the disappearance of species indicative of the polluted zone at stations H3 and H4 and the decrease at station I7 (nearest the outfall). Also, sentinel species of the subnormal zone and species characteristic of the unpolluted zone increased in number. The study demonstrated a complete change of communities at stations I7 and H4 between 1990 and 1994. Communities at these two stations, both near the sewer outfall, are characteristic of the subnormal zone. The community at station H3 that belonged to the subnormal zone displayed a degree of structural stability. These changes in benthic populations indicated that construction of the primary treatment plant reduced contamination in the area and may lead to recovery of the benthos in this region.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1999-07-01

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  • Water Environment Research (WER) is published monthly, including an annual Literature Review. A subscription to WER includes access to the latest content back to 1992, as well as access to fast track articles. An individual subscription is valid for 12 months from month of purchase.

    Water Environment Research (WER) publishes peer-reviewed research papers, research notes, state-of-the-art and critical reviews on original, fundamental and applied research in all scientific and technical areas related to water quality, pollution control, and management. An annual Literature Review provides a review of published books and articles on water quality topics from the previous year.

    Published as: Sewage Works Journal, 1928 - 1949; Sewage and Industrial Wastes, 1950 - 1959; Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, 1959 - Oct 1989; Research Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, Nov 1989 - 1991; Water Environment Research, 1992 - present.
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