Mill pond sediments as the indicator of the environment of the drainage
area (an example of Liswarta River, Odra basin, Poland)
Received: 8 April 2017 /Accepted: 1 December 2017 /Published online: 12 December 2017
The Author(s) 2017. This article is an open access publication
The geochemical characteristics of sediments deposited within a channel-type reservoir situated behind the weir of a water mill on
the River Liswarta (southern Poland) were studied in relation to land use in the catchment. The catchment in question is an
agricultural one with large forest areas. The contamination of sediments with trace elements was assessed using the
geoaccumulation index. The sediments studied were moderately to heavily contaminated with As, Cu, Co, Ni and Ba. They
were also heavily contaminated with Sr. Additionally, V and Cr contamination ranged from heavy to extreme. The basic
composition of sediments and the trace elements present in them indicate both natural and anthropogenic sources of pollution.
Mill impoundments provide zones where the sediments transported by rivers accumulate. Within the Liswarta catchment, their
removal may cause the remobilisation of contaminated alluvial deposits.
Keywords Trace elements
Land use has a significant impact on surface waters (e.g. Jagus
and Rzetala 2011; Rzetala et al. 2014; Calijuri et al. 2015), on
the processes occurring on river valley floors (e.g. Kondolf
et al. 2002;Merrittsetal.2011; Quiñonero-Rubio et al. 2014),
and on the geochemical characteristics of alluvial sediments
(e.g. Niemitz et al. 2012). In the past, human-induced envi-
ronmental transformations in river valleys were primarily re-
lated to agricultural land use. Currently, many river valleys are
subject to strong multi-directional human pressure (e.g.
Balpande et al. 1996; Brannstrom and Oliveira 2000;
Kessler and Stroosnijder 2006;Gutierrezetal.2009;Fu
et al. 2010; Jagus and Rzetala 2012;Mesheshaetal.2012;
Rzetala and Jagus 2012; Machowski et al. 2012; Rzetala et al.
2013a, b, 2015).
From the Middle Ages onward, the major structures con-
structed in river channels in agricultural catchments have in-
cluded mill impoundments, mostly involving small ponds.
Water mills have exerted a significant influence on the geo-
morphology of river channels and on the processes occurring
on flood plains and therefore they have attracted the re-
searchers’ interest for many years (e.g. Foster and Walling
1994; Trimble 1998; Downward and Skinner 2005; Pizzuto
and O'Neal 2009; Schenk and Hupp 2009). Mill ponds have
also played a significant role in the accumulation of sediments
and are even considered the major factor in historical sedimen-
tation (Walter and Merritts 2008; Merritts et al. 2011;
Wegmann et al. 2012). Bottom sediments in these ponds are
often used as indicators of human pressure (e.g. Walter and
Merritts 2008; Schenk and Hupp 2009;Merrittsetal.2011;
Niemitz et al. 2012;James2013).
Many water mills had channel-type reservoirs resulting
from increasing the water level in the river channel.
Although the efficiency of those reservoirs in catching the
sediments transported by the river was limited, in many agri-
cultural catchments they still form the few Bgeoarchives^
Bottom sediments in anthropogenic water bodies and
luvia are good indicators of environmental features and of
the changes taking place in the catchment because they are the
Responsible editor: Severine Le Faucheur
* Martyna Anna Rzetala
Faculty of Earth Sciences, University of Silesia, Bedzinska 60,
41-200 Sosnowiec, Poland
Environmental Science and Pollution Research (2018) 25:5832–5847