Skip to main content

Applicability of water quality models around the world—a review


Water quality models are important tools used in the management of water resources. The models are usually developed for specific regions, with particular climates and physical characteristics. Thus, applying these models in regions other than those they were designed for can generate large simulation errors. With consideration to these discrepancies, the goal of this study is to identify the models employed in different countries and assist researchers in the selection of the most appropriate models for management purposes. Published studies from the last 21 years (1997–2017) that discuss the application of water quality models were selected from three engineering databases: SpringerLink, Web of Science, and Scopus. Seven models for water quality simulations have been widely applied around the world: AQUATOX, CE-QUAL-W2, EFDC, QUALs, SWAT, SPARROW, and WASP. The countries most frequently applying water quality models are the USA, followed by China, and South Korea. SWAT was the most used model, followed by the QUAL group and CE-QUAL-W2. This study provides the opportunity for researchers, who wish to study countries with fewer cases of applied water quality models, to easily identify the work from that region. Furthermore, this work collated central themes of interest and the most simulated parameters for the seven countries that most frequently employed the water quality models.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5


Download references


The authors are grateful to the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior—CAPES, to the Programa de Apoio à Pós-graduação—PROAP and to the Federal University of Mato Grosso do Sul—UFMS for their support in the development of this work.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Isabel Kaufmann de Almeida.

Additional information

Responsible editor: Marcus Schulz

Publisher’s note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Electronic supplementary material


(DOCX 135 kb)


(DOCX 68 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Burigato Costa, C.M.d., da Silva Marques, L., Almeida, A.K. et al. Applicability of water quality models around the world—a review. Environ Sci Pollut Res 26, 36141–36162 (2019).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: