Santa Monica Bay - Glossary

adsorb: Adsorption is the adhesion of a thin layer of molecules (as of gases, solutes, or liquids) to the surfaces of solid bodies or liquids with which they are in contact.

benthic: Living on or in the ocean or lake sediments.

bight: A bend or curve, especially in a shoreline; wide Bay formed by such a bend or curve.

biomagnification: The occurrence of higher concentrations of a substance (usually a contaminant) in organisms at successively higher levels in the food web; sometimes also defined as the sum of bioconcentration and bioaccumulation.

biosolids: Sludge; primary treated human waste reclaimed from a treatment plant and used in compost products.

brackish: A mixture of fresh and salt waters, often found in marshes near the ocean.

coliform: Bacteria normally found in the colon. Often used as an indicator of fecal contamination of water supplies.

Consent Decree: A judicial decree that sanctions a voluntary agreement between two disputing parties.

contaminant: An unnatural (man-made) substance found in the environment or a naturally occurring substance or compound which is found in unnaturally high concentrations; a health hazard; a pollutant.

DDT: Dichloro diphenyl trichlorethane; a powerful insecticide. Its use is restricted by law due to its damaging environmental effects.

demersal: Living on or near the sea floor.

effluent: The material which flows out of a pipe or facility into a water body (or another larger pipe); wastewater which has undergone treatment to remove pollutants.

El Nino: An irregularly occurring change in the oceanic climate of the Pacific whereby warm, low-nutrient water flows east along the Equator, north along the west coast of North America and south along South America. The condition lasts for several months or two-three years, causing a change in the plants, animals, and climate of an area.

encroachment: To trespass or intrude, especially in a gradual or sneaking way.

enteric: intestinal

enterococcus: Bacteria normally found in the intestine of warm-blooded animals; often used as an indicator of fecal contamination; may cause illness when found in other parts of the body.

estuary: A water passage where the tide meets a river current, especially an arm of the sea at the lower end of a river.

groundwater: Water within the earth that supplies wells and streams.

heavy metals: Metallic elements, such as lead, mercury, silver, cadmium, copper, chromium, and zinc, which have relatively high atomic weights and may be toxic at high concentrations.

hypothermia: Subnormal body temperature.

indicator: A species of plant, animal or bacterium whose presence is associated with or indicative of a particular environmental condition.

intertidal: Areas that are underwater or above water cyclically, depending upon the tide.

invertebrate: An animal without a back bone or spinal column.

mass emission: The total amount of a contaminant that reaches the Bay. Mass emissions are calculated by multiplying the concentration of the contaminant by the volume or flow discharged.

microlayer: The very thin, upper surface layer of the ocean, at which organic substances, toxicants, and pathogens accumulate at greater concentrations than in the water column itself.

non-point source: Pollution that comes from a variety of sources, rather than a single stationary point.

NPDES: National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System -- regulates point and non-point source emissions.

outfalls: Discharge pipes through which effluent flows.

pathogens: Agents that specifically cause diseases -- viruses or bacteria.

PCBs: Polychlorinated biphenyl; a colorless, odorless liquid used as an insulator, especially in electrical equipment; a known carcinogen.

pelagic: Of, relating to, or living or occurring in the open ocean.

photosynthesis: The production of organic substances, chiefly sugars, from carbon dioxide and water occurring in green plant cells supplied with enough light to allow chlorophyll to aid in the transformation of the radiant energy to a chemical form.

phytoplankton: Minute plant life that lives in water. Similar minute animal life is called zooplankton. Zooplankton feed on phytoplankton and, in many cases, on each other.

pollutant: A contaminant.

point source: A stationary source of pollution, from which it can be measured and categorized.

primary sewage treatment: Usually consists of clarification with or without chemical treatment, in most cases by settling solids and skimming. At the end of this stage, floating and settled solids have been removed and half of the metals and conventional pollutants are eliminated.

POTWs: Publicly-owned (water or sewage) treatment works

riparian: Relating to or living or located on the bank of a natural watercourse (e.g., a river).

salinity: Saltiness

secondary sewage treatment: Sewage treatment that includes the reduction of organic material and solids by bacterial decomposition; about 85 percent of the Biological Oxygen Demand and suspended solids are removed. It consists primarily of clarification followed by a biological process to produce sludge.

sediment: Material that settles to the bottom or is suspended in water.

sludge: The solid material which settles, or is precipitated, out of sewage during the treatment process.

subtidal: Below the tide line.

TBT: Tri-butyl tin, an anti-fouling agent used on boats.

tertiary sewage treatment: Sewage treatment that includes the removal of nutrients (e.g., nitrogen and phosphorous compounds) and most of the remaining suspended solids.

total suspended solids (TSS): Solids that are unable to pass through a filter.

transient: Staying only for a short time.

turbidity: Water cloudiness; determined by the amount of material (living and non-living) which is suspended in a parcel of water. High turbidity reduces the penetration of light.

water column: The layer or "column" of water between the water surface and the ocean floor. The water column contains dissolved and particulate matter, and provides habitat for plankton, fish and marine mammals.

watershed: The region draining into a river, river system, or body of water.

wetlands: A collective term which describes areas where permanently or frequently wet conditions produce particular plant and animal communities; includes salt marshes, freshwater marshes, and tidal mudflat habitats.

zooplankton: Microscopic animals that move passively in aquatic ecosystems.


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Last Update 4/96