What is Brackish Water?

You may have heard the term before, but what is brackish water? Simply it is a mixture of both saltwater and freshwater. Naturally brackish conditions create a unique habitat for plant and animal life. On the other-hand, brackish conditions that are created by humans typically harms the pre-existing environmental habitat-permanently, or many years after the activity has stopped. “Brackish” comes from the word, “brak” that means “salt” in Dutch. Specifically, brackish water is classified as having 0.5 and 30 grams of salt per liter.

Although brackish water is salty, it is not uncommon for it to be potable, meaning it is drinkable, despite its undesirable taste. Brackish water, however is known to be more susceptible to carrying pathogens than freshwater, so sources should be tested and possibly purified before drinking.

Generally estuaries (where rivers meet the sea, such as the San Francisco Bay) contain brackish water and are a natural habitat for particular species of fish that thrive in brackish water. However, if for any reason there is a significant change in levels of salt, the living creatures of this habitat may be threatened.

Another naturally occurring site of brackish water are in mangrove swamps. Mangroves are a classic example of what in Permaculture is called “having lots of edge.” These swamps are a border area, an ever-flowing mix between the salts coming in from the tides and the freshwater running off the land into the ocean. In result, there is a highly unique plant and animal life among these brackish waters.

Lastly, certain seas, lakes and lagoons can be brackish. The Balitc Seas is the largest body of brackish water. Other well known brackish seas are the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. There are many lakes around the world with brackish water.

Ecology loves a unique place and natural brackish water sites are exactly that. -AMANDA JACKSON

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