The Impact of Anthropogenic Pollution on Tidal Water Quality in Mangrove Wetlands

Kit Ling Lam, Yu Hin Lam, Angie Ying Sim Ng, Ken Kwok Yin So, Nora Fung Yee Tam, Fred Wang Fat Lee, Wing Yin Mo

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Mangrove wetlands are vulnerable coastal ecosystems that provide critical habitats for aquatic life. Tai O is a popular tourist village on Lantau Island, Hong Kong, which is surrounded by mangrove wetlands with rich biodiversity; and this village is also famous for its traditional stilt houses. However, the untreated municipal sewage from some stilt houses is directly discharged into nearby tidal channels, potentially threatening health of the adjacent mangrove wetlands. In order to evaluate the anthropogenic impact on these wetlands and identify the potential sources of their pollution, this study aimed to evaluate spatial (at the sampling points) and temporal (during weekdays and weekends) differences in the quality of their tidal water, and examine relationships between the water quality and the density of the stilt houses. The results indicated that the water quality was worse during weekends. The ammonia concentrations in most samples exceeded the limits of the Hong Kong Water Quality Objectives, China’s Sea Water Quality Standards, and even the U.S. EPA criterion for fish reproduction. This high ammonia input could potentially adversely affect the mangrove ecosystem, underscoring the need for further comprehensive studies. Moreover, some of the weekend water samples had lower dissolved oxygen levels and were polluted by phosphate. Our Principal Component Analysis revealed that water quality was correlated with stilt house density, suggesting that anthropogenic inputs of untreated sewage was the major source of pollution. These findings highlight that nutrients released from human activities, particularly ammonia and phosphate, must be controlled for a better protection of mangrove wetland ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2374
JournalJournal of Marine Science and Engineering
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


  • ammonia
  • human impact
  • mangrove wetlands
  • municipal sewage and treatment
  • phosphate
  • water quality


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