Nutrient and Coliform Loading

Overview > Glossary of Terms

Glossary of Terms

The following is a list and explanation of terms used in this project and website.

Ammonia occurs naturally and is produced by human activity. It is an important source of nitrogen which is needed by plants and animals. Ammonia is a colorless gas with a very distinct odor. This odor is familiar to many people because ammonia is used in smelling salts, many household and industrial cleaners, and window-cleaning products.

Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD)
The amount of oxygen organisms require to decompose organic matter (under standard aerobic conditions). Generally measured in mg/l (milligrams per liter)

Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD)
A standard test that measures the amount of the organic matter in wastewater that can be oxidized (burned up) by a very strong chemical oxidant

Coliform bacteria
Rod-shaped bacteria living in the intestines of humans and other warm blooded animals

Dissolved Oxygen
The concentration of oxygen (normally a gas) dissolved in water. This concentration is a function of temperature and pressure. (For example, the colder the water, the more oxygen it will hold)

Eutrophication is a process whereby water bodies, such as lakes, estuaries, or slow-moving streams receive excess nutrients that stimulate excessive plant growth (algae, periphyton attached algae, and nuisance plants)

Fecal Coliform
A sub-group of coliform bacteria, found in the intestinal wastes of humans and animals. If detected in water, this is an indication that the water has been contaminated by sewage or is improperly treated wastewater and therefore may contain disease-causing organisms

Fecal Streptococcus
As with fecal coliform bacteria, this group of bacteria indicate human or animal waste. In some situations, these bacteria survive better than fecal coliform bacteria and therefore are especially useful as an indicator of contamination (e.g. by sewage or improperly treated wastewater)

A stable, oxidized form of nitrogen having the formula NO3-

An unstable, easily oxidized form of nitrogen with the chemical formula NO2-

Any substance that is assimilated by organisms to promote or facilitate their growth

Total Coliform
Total coliform bacteria is a group of bacteria that includes fecal coliform bacteria and other nonfecal bacteria that are very common in the natural world (wood, soil, etc.). Testing for these is standard procedure for drinking water.

Total Kjeldahl Nitrogen - (TKN)
The sum of the organic plus ammonia nitrogen in a water sample which is determined by digesting and distilling the sample, then measuring the ammonia concentration in the distillate

Total Nitrogen
Total nitrogen is a measure of all the various forms of nitrogen that are found in a water sample.

Total Phosphorus
Total phosphorus is a measure of all the various forms of phosphorus that are found in a water sample.

Total Suspended Solids (TSS)
Measure of the small particles of solid material (pollutants) suspended or dispersed in wastewater. Used as one index of water quality/pollution level and hence treatment system performance, often in conjunction with Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD). Usually measured in mg/l