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Assessment of Water Quality Across Irrigation Schemes: A Case Study of Wetland Agriculture Impacts in Kilombero Valley, Tanzania

Department of Physical Geography, Stockholm University, SE 106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
Institute of Resource Assessment, University of Dar es Salaam, P.O. Box 35097 Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Bolin Centre for Climate Research, SE 106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
The Nature Conservancy, 2350 NJ-47, Delmont, NJ 08314, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2019, 11(4), 671;
Received: 26 February 2019 / Revised: 21 March 2019 / Accepted: 27 March 2019 / Published: 31 March 2019
PDF [2884 KB, uploaded 7 May 2019]


Coupled change in land and water use due to increased farming intensity is a main factor affecting water quality and quantity, ecological functions and biodiversity globally. Prolonging growing seasons and increasing productivity in wetlands through irrigation have been targeted for increasing food security, particularly in developing countries. Nevertheless, irrigation and drainage have often been associated with degradation of water quality through increased agrochemical and fertiliser runoff and leaching at local scales. In this study, we investigated water quality in streams used for irrigation in a wetland area in Kilombero Valley, Tanzania. We measured physical-chemical water parameters and collected macroinvertebrates with different sensitivity to water quality across several small irrigation schemes covering various conditions. Turbidity, temperature, nitrate-N, and ammonium-N were significantly higher at sampling sites downstream of irrigation compared to upstream. Macroinvertebrate diversity, richness and average score per taxa (ASPT) were higher in general in sampling sites upstream of irrigation, with more sensitive macroinvertebrates decreasing in abundance downstream. There was a positive correlation between physical-chemical parameters and macroinvertebrate indices across the sites. We demonstrate that macroinvertebrate indices can be used as a quick assessment of water quality in response to irrigation schemes in small-scale farming systems of Tanzania. This in turn can allow us to track changes affecting wetland ecosystem function and biodiversity at higher trophic levels and across larger scales, thereby providing useful early warnings to help avoid widespread degradation under widespread agricultural intensification. View Full-Text
Keywords: wetland; macroinvertebrates; water quality; physical-chemical; irrigation; pollution wetland; macroinvertebrates; water quality; physical-chemical; irrigation; pollution

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Alavaisha, E.; Lyon, S.W.; Lindborg, R. Assessment of Water Quality Across Irrigation Schemes: A Case Study of Wetland Agriculture Impacts in Kilombero Valley, Tanzania. Water 2019, 11, 671.

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