Integration of monthly water balance modeling and nutrient load estimation in an agricultural catchment

  • P. Tian
  • G. ZhaoEmail author
  • J. Li
  • J. Gao
  • Z. Zhang
Original Paper


Non-point sources pollution has become a serious environmental problem in the aquatic systems throughout the world. The Xitiaoxi catchment is located in the southwest of Taihu Basin, contributing large amounts of runoff and associated nutrients to Taihu Lake. Thus, identifying critical non-point sources pollution in this catchment is urgent and essential to control water pollution, improve the water quality, and reduce the pollutants drained into water bodies. The present study integrated a monthly water balance model with the export coefficient model for total nitrogen and total phosphorus loads estimation in the Xitiaoxi catchment in southeastern China. The simulated monthly runoff are in good agreement with the observed streamflow at both Hengtangcun and Fanjiancun stations with Nash–Sutcliffe coefficients higher than 0.80. The predictions showed reasonable ranges from 1687 to 2046 t/y (2002–2005) for total nitrogen loads, and from 106 to 157 t/y for total phosphorus loads (1999–2007), respectively, which are consistent with the observed values at Hengtangcun. Overall, the monthly export coefficient model coupling monthly water balance simulation to export coefficient model presented both the seasonal dynamics and magnitude for streamflow and nutrients loads, which generally match well with the observations. These findings demonstrate that the proposed model can provide encouraging results and can be used as an efficient tool to identify the pollution sources for planning and management of large-scale agricultural catchment.


Export coefficient model Monthly water balance model Nitrogen PCRaster Phosphorus Xitiaoxi catchment 



The authors would express their gratitude to the Nanjing institute of Geography and Limnology, Chinese Academy of Sciences and local government for providing the data. This study was jointly funded by the Program of “Development and application of non-point source pollution model using dynamic environmental modeling language” (sklhse-2010-A-01) from State Key Laboratory of Hydro-Science and Engineering and Department of Hydraulic Engineering, Tsinghua University and the National Basic Research Program (also called 973 program: 2007CB407203). The authors would like to express their gratitude to the reviewers for the valuable comments which greatly improved the quality of the paper.


  1. Arnold JG, Allen PM, Bernhardt G (1993) A comprehensive surface–groundwater flow model. J Hydrol 142:47–69CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Beasley D, Huggins LF, Monke EJ (1980) ANSWERS: a model for watershed planning. Trans ASAE 23:938–944Google Scholar
  3. Bowes MJ, Smith JT, Jarvie HP, Neal C (2008) Modelling of phosphorus inputs to rivers from diffuse and point sources. Sci Total Environ 395:125–138CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Brutsaert W (1992) Evaporation into the atmosphere: theory, history and applications. Cornell University Press, IthacaGoogle Scholar
  5. Cao WZ, Hong HS, Zhang YZ, Chen NW, Zeng Y, Wang WP (2006) Anthropogenic nitrogen sources and export at a village-scale catchment in southeast China. Environ Geochem Health 28(1–2):45–51CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Carpenter SR, Caraco NF, Correll DL, Howarth RW, Sharpley AN, Smith VH (1998) Nonpoint pollution on surface waters with phosphorus and nitrogen. Ecol Appl 8:559–568CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chen NW, Hong HS, Zhang LP, Cao WZ (2008a) Nitrogen sources and exports in an agricultural watershed in Southeast China. Biogeochemistry 87:169–179CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chen XM, Wo F, Chen C, Fang K (2008b) Seasonal changes in the concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus in farmland drainage and groundwater of the Taihu Lake region of China. Environ Monitor Assess doi: 10.1007/s10661-009-1159-3
  9. Ding XW, Shen ZY, Hong Q, Yang ZF, Wu X, Liu RM (2010) Development and test of the export coefficient model in the upper reach of the Yangtze River. J Hydrol 383:233–244CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Donigian AS, Bicknell BR, Imhoff JC (1995) Hydrological simulation program-Fortran (HSPF). In: Singh VP (ed) Computer models of watershed hydrology. WRP, Highlands Ranch, pp 395–442Google Scholar
  11. Drewry JJ, Newham LTH, Jakeman AJ, Croke BFW (2006) A review of nitrogen and phosphorus export to waterways context for catchment modelling. Mar Freshwater Res 57:757–774CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Filoso S, Martinelli LA, Williams MR, Lara LB, Krusche A, Victoria Ballester M, Victoria R, De Camargo PB (2003) Land use and nitrogen export in the Piracicaba River basin Southeast Brazil. Biogeochemistry 65(3):275–294CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Guo HY, Wang XR, Zhu JG (2004) Quantification and index of non-point source pollution in Lake Taihu region with GIS. Environ Geochem Health 26:147–156CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Johnes PJ (1996) Evaluation and management of the impact of land use change to the nitrogen and phosphorus load delivered to surface waters the export coefficient modelling approach. J Hydrol 183:323–349CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Lai GY, Yu G, Gui F (2006) Preliminary study on assessment of nutrient transport in the Taihu Basin based on SWAT modeling. Sci China Ser D Earth Sci 49:135–145CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Li HP, Liu XM, Yang GS (2004) Nutrients pollutant load analysis of Xitiaoxi watershed in Taihu region. J Lake Sci 16(suppl):89–98Google Scholar
  17. Li ZF, Yang GS, Li HP (2009) Estimated nutrient export loads based on improved export coefficient model in Xitiaoxi watershed. Environ Sci 30(3):668–672 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  18. Liang T, Wang SN, Cao HY, Zhang CS, Li HT, Li HP, Song WC, Chong ZY (2008) Estimation of ammonia nitrogen load from nonpoint sources in the Xitiao River catchment China. J Environ Sci (China) 20(10):1195–1201CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Liu RM, Yang ZF, Shen ZY, Yu SL, Ding XW, Wu X, Liu F (2009) Estimating nonpoint source pollution in the upper Yangtze River using the export coefficient model remote sensing and geographical information system. J Hydraul Eng ASCE 135(9):698–704CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Long TY, Liang CD, Li JC, Liu LM (2008) Forecasting the pollution load of non-point sources imported to the Three Gorges Reservoir. Acta Scientiae Circumstantiae 2(3):574–581Google Scholar
  21. Mahvi AH, Nouri J, Babaei AA, Nabizadeh R (2005) Agricultural activities impact on groundwater nitrate pollution. Int J Environ Sci Tech 2(1):41–47Google Scholar
  22. May L, House WA, Bowes M, McEvoy J (2001) Seasonal export of phosphorus from a lowland catchment upper River Cherwell in Oxfordshire England. Sci Total Environ 269(1–3):117–130Google Scholar
  23. Nash JE, Sutcliffe JV (1970) River flow forecasting through conceptual models part I A discussion of principals. J Hydrol 10:282–290CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Novotny V (1999) Integrating diffuse nonpoint pollution control and water body restoration into watershed management. J Am Water Resour Assoc 35(4):717–727CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Omernik JM (1976) The influence of land use on stream nutrient levels. Report EPA 600/3-76-014 OregonGoogle Scholar
  26. Shrestha S, Babel MS, Das Gupta A, Kazama F (2006) Evaluation of annualized agricultural non point source model for a watershed in the Siwalik Hills of Nepal. Environ Model Softw 21(7):961–975CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Singh VP, Frevert DK (2002) Mathematical models of large watershed hydrology. Water Resources Publications, Highlands RanchGoogle Scholar
  28. Van Deursen WPA (1995) Geographical information systems and dynamic models development and application of a prototype spatial modelling language. Ph D dissertation, Utrecht UniversityGoogle Scholar
  29. Vuorenmaa J, Rekolainen S, Lepistö A, Kenttämies K, Kauppila P (2002) Losses of nitrogen and phosphorus from agricultural and forest areas in finland during the 1980 s and 1990 s. Environ Monit Assess 76:213–248CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Wesseling CG, Karssenberg DJ, Burrough PA, Van Deursen WPA (1996) Integrated dynamic environmental models in GIS: the development of a dynamic modelling language. Trans GIS 1–1:40–48CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Xiong LH, Guo SL (1999) Two-parameter water balance model and its application. J Hydrol 216:315–347CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Yang LZ, Wang DJ, Xia LZ (2004) Features and ways of control of non-point agricultural pollution in Taihu area. China Water Res 20:29–30 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  33. Young RA, Onstad CA, Bosch DD, Anderson WP (1989) Agricultural non-point source pollution model for evaluating agricultural watersheds. J Soil Water Conserv 44(2):168–173Google Scholar
  34. Yu G, Xue B, Lai GY, Liu XM (2007) A 200-year historical modelling of catchment nutrients changes in Taihu Basin China. Hydrobiologia 581:79–87CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Zhao GJ, Hörmann G, Fohrer N, Li HP, Gao JF, Tian K (2011) Development and application of a nitrogen simulation model in a data scarce catchment in South China. Agric Water Manage 98:619–631CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© CEERS, IAU 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Water Resources and Architectural EngineeringNorthwest A & F UniversityYanglingChina
  2. 2.Institute of Soil and Water ConservationNorthwest A & F University, Chinese Academy of Sciences and Ministry of Water ResourcesYanglingChina
  3. 3.Nanjing Institute of Geography and Limnology, Chinese Academy of SciencesNanjingChina
  4. 4.Jiangsu Key Laboratory of Forestry Ecological EngineeringNanjing Forestry UniversityNanjingChina

Personalised recommendations