Silica diffuse and point sources in the Seine watershed

Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsSferratore, A, Garnier, J, Billen, G, Conley, D, Pinault, S
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Start Page6630
Date Published10/2006
Dissolved silica (DSi) is believed to enter aquatic ecosystems primarily through diffuse sources by weathering. Point sources have generally been considered negligible, although recent reports of DSi inputs from domestic and industrial sources suggest otherwise. In addition, particulate amorphous silica (ASi) inputs from terrestrial ecosystems during soil erosion and in vegetation can dissolve and also be a significant source of DSi. We quantify here both point and diffuse sources of DSi and particulate ASi to the Seine River watershed. The total per capita point source inputs of Si (DSi + ASi) were found to be 1.0 and 0.8 g Si inhabitant-1 d-1 in raw and treated waters of the Achères wastewater treatment plant, in agreement with calculations based on average food intake and silica-containing washing products consumption. A mass balance of Si inputs and outputs for the Seine drainage network was established for wet and dry hydrological conditions (2001 and 2003, respectively). Diffuse sources of Si are of 1775 kg Si km-2 y-1 in wet conditions and 762 kg Si km-2 y-1 in dry conditions, with the proportion of ASi around 6%. Point sources of Si from urban discharge can contribute to more than 8% of the total Si inputs at the basin scale in hydrologically dry years. An in-stream retention of 6% of total inputs in dry conditions and 12% in wet conditions is inferred from the budget.