Experiments were conducted in artificial streams to determine the effects of increasing concentrations of biologically treated bleached kraft pulp mill effluent (BKPME) on periphyton and chironomid growth in the Thompson River, British Columbia. Periphyton growth, as determined by increases in chlorophyll a, was significantly stimulated at all effluent concentrations tested (0.25%, 0.5%, 1.0%, 5.0% and, 10.0%). Chironomid growth (individual weight) was also significantly stimulated at low effluent concentrations (≤1.0%). At higher concentrations (5.0% and 10.0%), chironomid growth was inhibited relative to the 1.0% treatment streams. Increases in growth were attributed to the effects of nutrient and organic enrichment from BKPME. The effluent contained high concentrations of phosphorus and appears to be an important source of carbon for benthic insects grazing on the biofilm. In high concentration effluent streams, chironomid growth decreased despite low levels of typical pulp mill contaminants. This suggests that other compounds in the effluent, such as wood extractives, may be inhibiting chironomid growth. These results support findings of field monitoring studies conducted in the Thompson River where changes in periphyton and chironomid abundance occurred downstream of the bleached kraft pulp mill.

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