Glossary of Terms used in this Website


Drainage basin: watershed, drainage area: A geographical area where surface runoff from streams and other natural watercourses is carried by a single drainage system to a common outlet.

Eutrophication: A natural enrichment process of a lake or river accelerated by man's activities.

Heavy metals: Metals of high specific gravity, including cadmium, chromium, cobalt, copper, lead, mercury, zinc. They are toxic to many organisms even in low concentrations.

Non-point source: pollutants not traceable to a discrete origin which generally result from land runoff, precipitation, drainage, or seepage.

Palaeolimnology: The science of analysing sequentially deposited lake sediments to trace (hindcast) past events in lake/catchment history.

Phosphorus, available: Phosphorus which is readily available for plant growth. Usually in the form of soluble orthophosphates (PO4).

Phosphorus, total (TP): All of the phosphorous present in a sample regardless of form.

Point source: A discrete pollutant discharge such as a pipe, ditch, channel, or concentrated animal feeding operation.

Riparian: Pertaining to the bank side region of a river.

Trace elements: Those elements which are needed in low concentrations for the growth of an organism.

Trophic condition: A relative description of a lake's biological productivity. The range of trophic conditions is characterised by the terms oligotrophic for the least biologically productive, to eutrophic for the most biologically productive.

Urban runoff: Surface runoff from an urban drainage area.

Water quality: A term used to describe the chemical, physical, and biological characteristics of water, usually with respect to its suitability for a particular purpose.

Water quality standards: Standards defined by Irish and EU legislation for required physical and chemical properties of water according to its designated use (often referred to as "EQS - Environmental Quality Standards).

Watershed: See drainage basin.


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