Heavy metal (HM) contamination of water bodies is caused by both first generation (industries) and second generation (distributed sources, domestic sewage, sediments) sources. We applied a multi-pronged approach to quantify the contribution of first and second generation sources to the HM load in a stream located in an industrialised catchment. We found that, despite strict regulation, first generation sources contributed significantly to the HM load (60%–80%), showing the ineffectiveness of current regulation. Domestic sewage contributed significantly to Cu, Ni, and Mn load (15%–20%). The contribution of distributed sources and sediments to HM load is insignificant. In a 24-hour cycle, HM concentrations frequently exceeded FAO’s irrigation water quality standards, with the highest concentrations observed at night. Empirically, the study highlights the continued plight of urban streams in rapidly industrialising centers and the failure to regulate first-generation sources. Methodologically, it demonstrates the importance of temporally intensive measurement of contaminant concentration and load. Policy implications include the need for ambient water quality standards, inclusion of HMs in such standards, load-based regulation, and a problem-oriented monitoring and enforcement approach.
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The datasets generated during and/or analysed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.
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This research is part of a larger study titled “Adapting to Climate Change in Urbanizing Watersheds (ACCUWa) in India” (www.atree.org/accuwa). Financial support for most of this research comes from grant no. 107086-001 from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Canada. In addition, financial support for this research also came from Sir Dorabji Tata Trust and the Department of Science and Technology (DST). We would like to thank Shivaram, Chandan Gowda and Durgesh, field assistant and interns, for helping with sample collection and analysis. We are also grateful to the staff at ATREE and drivers for help with travel and vigilance during sample collections, especially during nighttime.
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Jamwal, P., Nayak, D., Urs, P.R. et al. A multi-pronged approach to source attribution and apportionment of heavy metals in urban rivers. Ambio 51, 2182–2200 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-022-01734-y
- Domestic wastewater
- Heavy metals
- Industrial effluents
- Industrial pollution regulation
- Source apportionment
- Water quality monitoring