Sediments of two dam reservoirs in SE Poland, Zalew Zemborzycki (ZZ) and Brody Iłżeckie (BI) were studied. The sediments from both reservoirs were sampled in the transects perpendicular to the shoreline, at the river inflow and the frontal dam. The total concentration of Mn, Zn, Pb, Cd, Cu, Cr and Ni was determined by ICP-EAS method after the sample digestion in the mixture of concentrated HNO3 and HClO4 acids. The statistical analyses: value intervals, mean values, variation coefficient, the median and the skewed distribution were performed. To estimate differences between the means for transects, Tukey’s test was applied with least significant difference (LSD) determination. The maps of the metal spatial distribution were drawn and sediment quality according to the geochemical and ecotoxicological criteria evaluated. Differences between the reservoirs in terms of heavy metals concentration in bottom sediments, and regularities in their spatial distribution were found. In the ZZ sediments the concentration was at the level of geochemical background (Zn, Cr), slightly (Cd, Cu, Ni) or moderately (Pb) contaminated sediments. The metal concentration in the sediments of the BI was up to eight times higher as compared to the ZZ. Moreover, sediments from the BI reservoir showed a greater variability of metal concentration than those from ZZ, which resulted from the dredging operation performed in the part of the reservoir. Metal concentration in sediments of the dredged part was ca. 2–5 times lower than in the undredged one, which indicates that after the dredging operation, accumulation of these metals was slight. The concentrations of Zn, Pb and Cd from the undredged part of BI were at the level of contaminated sediments and exceeded the probable effects level (PEL). In the ZZ, the greatest accumulation of metals occurred in the upper part of the reservoir and at the frontal dam, and the lowest in the middle part of the reservoir. In BI, the lower outflow of water in this reservoir caused a lower metal concentration in the sediments at the frontal dam, as compared with the other sediments in the undredged part of the reservoir. The results indicate that in small and shallow reservoirs, areas of accumulation of heavy metals depend on such factors as a parent river current, reservoir depth, water waving, reservoir shape (narrowing, coves/bays), and type of water outflow.
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