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Estimation of contribution ratios of pollutant sources to a specific section based on an enhanced water quality model

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Because water quality monitoring sections or sites could reflect the water quality status of rivers, surface water quality management based on water quality monitoring sections or sites would be effective. For the purpose of improving water quality of rivers, quantifying the contribution ratios of pollutant resources to a specific section is necessary. Because physical and chemical processes of nutrient pollutants are complex in water bodies, it is difficult to quantitatively compute the contribution ratios. However, water quality models have proved to be effective tools to estimate surface water quality. In this project, an enhanced QUAL2Kw model with an added module was applied to the Xin’anjiang Watershed, to obtain water quality information along the river and to assess the contribution ratios of each pollutant source to a certain section (the Jiekou state-controlled section). Model validation indicated that the results were reliable. Then, contribution ratios were analyzed through the added module. Results show that among the pollutant sources, the Lianjiang tributary contributes the largest part of total nitrogen (50.43 %), total phosphorus (45.60 %), ammonia nitrogen (32.90 %), nitrate (nitrite + nitrate) nitrogen (47.73 %), and organic nitrogen (37.87 %). Furthermore, contribution ratios in different reaches varied along the river. Compared with pollutant loads ratios of different sources in the watershed, an analysis of contribution ratios of pollutant sources for each specific section, which takes the localized chemical and physical processes into consideration, was more suitable for local-regional water quality management. In summary, this method of analyzing the contribution ratios of pollutant sources to a specific section based on the QUAL2Kw model was found to support the improvement of the local environment.

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The authors would like to thank the Environmental Protection Bureau and Environment Monitoring Station of Huangshan City for providing hydrology and chemistry data for Xin’anjiang Watershed. This work was supported by the Water Environment Institute, Chinese Academy for Environmental Planning (No. 2013A009&2013A218). Thanks are extended to the anonymous reviewer who has spent enormous efforts reviewing the manuscript and provided very encouraging, insightful, and constructive comments.

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Cao, B., Li, C., Liu, Y. et al. Estimation of contribution ratios of pollutant sources to a specific section based on an enhanced water quality model. Environ Sci Pollut Res 22, 7569–7581 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-015-4266-4

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  • The QUAL2Kw model
  • Water quality simulation
  • Pollutant sources
  • Contribution ratios
  • The Xin’anjiang Watershed
  • Water quality monitoring section