Main Article Content
Maintaining the quality of water resources is of great importance for environmental preservation and the quality of life of consumers, and is one of the greatest challenges facing humanity today. Land-use for agriculture and animal farming significantly changes the biological, physical and chemical characteristics of natural systems. This study comprised monitoring of two subbasins located in the Mantiqueira Range region, from which water samples were collected on a monthly basis between June 2010 and May 2011 for analysis. Each subbasin has a distinct vegetation cover, one being predominantly covered by pastureland and the other being entirely covered by Atlantic Forest. The following water quality indicators were analyzed: turbidity, pH, electrical conductivity, total dissolved solids, dissolved oxygen, temperature, nitrate, phosphate, BOD, COD, total and fecal coliforms, and respective discharge measurement. The results showed that water quality degradation in both environments coincided with the local rainy season and was influenced by transport of organic material to watercourses by direct surface runoff. The high concentrations of fecal coliforms found affected the water quality, particularly in the rainy season, and are associated with agriculture and animal farming, the main economic activities in the region. The Atlantic Forest environment, however, had statistically better water quality over time in relation to the pastureland environment, due to the buffering it provides to direct surface runoff.