Total Suspended Solids
Total suspended solids is a measure of water clarity and is affected by the amount of material suspended in water. As more material is suspended, less light can pass through, making it less transparent. Suspended materials may include soil, algae, plankton, and microbes. Total suspended solids is the measurement of solid material per volume of water (mg/L). High measures of total suspended solids indirectly harms aquatic species when solids settle out and clog gills, destroy habitat, and reduce the availability of food. Furthermore, suspended materials in streams promote solar heating, which can increase water temperatures, and reduce light penetration, which reduces photosynthesis, both of which contribute to lower dissolved oxygen. Sediment also can carry chemicals attached to the particles, which can have harmful environmental effects. Sources of suspended particles include soil erosion, waste discharge, urban runoff, eroding stream banks, disturbance of bottom sediments by bottom-feeding fish (e.g., carp), and excess algal growth.