The capacity of water for neutralizing an acid solution. Alkalinity of natural waters is due primarily to the presence of hydroxides, bicarbonates, carbonates and occasionally borates, silicates and phosphates. It is expressed in units of milligrams per liter (mg/l) of CaCO3 (calcium carbonate) or as microequivalents per liter (µeq/l) 20 µeq/l = 1 mg/l of CaCO3. A solution having a pH below 4.5 contains no alkalinity. Low alkalinity is the main indicator of susceptibility to acid rain. Increasing alkalinity is often related to increased algal productivity. Lakes with watersheds that have sedimentary carbonate rocks are high in dissolved carbonates (hard-water lakes). Whereas lakes in granite or igneous rocks are low in dissolved carbonates (soft water lakes).
The capacity of water to neutralize acids. This capacity is caused by the water's content of carbonate, bicarbonate, hydroxide and occasionally borate, silicate, and phosphate. Alkalinity is expressed in milligrams per liter of equivalent calcium carbonate. Alkalinity is not the same as pH because water does not have to be strongly basic (high pH) to have a high alkalinity. Alkalinity is a measure of how much acid can be added to a liquid without causing a great change in pH.