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Water 2018, 10(6), 750; https://doi.org/10.3390/w10060750

Water Resources Sustainability of Ulaanbaatar City, Mongolia

1
Department of Earth System Sciences, Yonsei University, Seoul 03722, Korea
2
School of Geology and Mining Engineering, Mongolian University of Science and Technology, Ulaanbaatar 216046, Mongolia
3
Institute of Natural Sciences, Yonsei University, Seoul 03722, Korea
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 17 May 2018 / Revised: 31 May 2018 / Accepted: 5 June 2018 / Published: 8 June 2018
(This article belongs to the Section Hydrology)
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Abstract

Ulaanbaatar (UB), the capital of Mongolia, is one of the fastest-growing cities in the developing world. Due to increasing demand driven by rapid population and industrial growth, sustainable water resource management is required. Therefore, we investigated sustainability in UB from the perspective of water quality. During five sampling campaigns, we collected 135 water samples (58 from bedrock wells, 44 from shallow wells tapped into the alluvial aquifer, 24 from rivers, and 9 from springs). The hydrochemistry of the water samples was controlled by two major processes: NO3 contamination, and silicate and carbonate mineral weathering. The groundwater samples could be classified into three groups based on their NO3 levels and spatial distribution. Group 1 had natural background NO3 levels (median: 1.7 mg/L) and silicate weathering–dominant water–rock interactions and was distributed in the alluvial aquifer along the floodplain. Group 2 was dominated by carbonate weathering processes, had a maximum NO3 concentration of 47.4 mg/L, and was distributed between the riverbank and upslope area; overall, it reflected ongoing contamination. Group 3 was distributed in the upslope Ger districts and showed significant NO3 contamination (range: 64.0–305.4 mg/L) due to dense and poor living conditions. The stable isotope signatures indicated that the city’s major water supply from riverbank filtration (i.e., Group 1 wells) mixed dynamically with the river; therefore, it showed no sign of NO3 contamination. However, the isotope values and bedrock groundwater quality of wells in Groups 2 and 3 implied that they were closely connected, with the same water source, and showed a strong potential for expanding NO3 contamination toward Group 1 wells. To support sustainable development in UB, the implementation of appropriate institutional measures to protect and preserve water resources, with systematic spatio-temporal monitoring and a focus on Ger districts, is crucial. View Full-Text
Keywords: monitoring; nitrate; sustainability; Ulaanbaatar; water resources monitoring; nitrate; sustainability; Ulaanbaatar; water resources
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Batsaikhan, N.; Lee, J.M.; Nemer, B.; Woo, N.C. Water Resources Sustainability of Ulaanbaatar City, Mongolia. Water 2018, 10, 750.

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