A project investigating the dynamics of self-purification processes in a shallow stream is carried out. Effects of the concentration gradient due to the distance to the pollution source, of hydraulic conditions in the river bed and of storm floods on the distribution of nitrifying bacteria were studied with the help of laboratory and field experiments. Nitrifiers density on the surface of the stream bed increased rapidly up to a distance of 300 m from the WWTP indicating possible competition of the nitrifiers with the heterotrophic bacteria close to the WWTP. Afterwards a slight decrease in the downstream direction was observed. In vertical profiles, higher bacterial densities were found at sites with rapid infiltration of channel water to the stream bed than at sites with no exchange between channel water and stream bed water or where stream bed water exfiltrated. A major flood event scoured the nitrifiers nearly totally from the surface of the river bed. Major floods belong so to the most dominant processes controlling self-purification in shallow streams. Minor floods, however, don't scour bacteria in the depth of the stream bed that could then be important for the self-purification processes.

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