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Water 2015, 7(5), 1889-1920; doi:10.3390/w7051889

Spatial Quantification of Non-Point Source Pollution in a Meso-Scale Catchment for an Assessment of Buffer Zones Efficiency

1
Department of Hydraulic Engineering, Warsaw University of Life Sciences (WULS-SGGW), Nowoursynowska str. 159, Warszawa 02-776, Poland
2
European Regional Centre for Ecohydrology of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Tylna str. 3, Łódź 90-364, Poland
3
Regional Water Management Authority in Warsaw, 13B Zarzecze, Warszawa 03-194, Poland
Current address: Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), P.O. Box 60 12 03, Potsdam 14412, Germany.
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Lutz Breuer and Philipp Kraft
Received: 2 February 2015 / Revised: 1 April 2015 / Accepted: 3 April 2015 / Published: 27 April 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hydro-Ecological Modeling)
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Abstract

The objective of this paper was to spatially quantify diffuse pollution sources and estimate the potential efficiency of applying riparian buffer zones as a conservation practice for mitigating chemical pollutant losses. This study was conducted using a semi-distributed Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model that underwent extensive calibration and validation in the Sulejów Reservoir catchment (SRC), which occupies 4900 km2 in central Poland. The model was calibrated and validated against daily discharges (10 gauges), NO3-N and TP loads (7 gauges). Overall, the model generally performed well during the calibration period but not during the validation period for simulating discharge and loading of NO3-N and TP. Diffuse agricultural sources appeared to be the main contributors to the elevated NO3-N and TP loads in the streams. The existing, default representation of buffer zones in SWAT uses a VFS sub-model that only affects the contaminants present in surface runoff. The results of an extensive monitoring program carried out in 2011–2013 in the SRC suggest that buffer zones are highly efficient for reducing NO3-N and TP concentrations in shallow groundwater. On average, reductions of 56% and 76% were observed, respectively. An improved simulation of buffer zones in SWAT was achieved through empirical upscaling of the measurement results. The mean values of the sub-basin level reductions are 0.16 kg NO3/ha (5.9%) and 0.03 kg TP/ha (19.4%). The buffer zones simulated using this approach contributed 24% for NO3-N and 54% for TP to the total achieved mean reduction at the sub-basin level. This result suggests that additional measures are needed to achieve acceptable water quality status in all water bodies of the SRC, despite the fact that the buffer zones have a high potential for reducing contaminant emissions. View Full-Text
Keywords: water quality; nutrient; ecotones; vegetative filter strips; buffer strips; hydrological model; Pilica; diffuse pollution water quality; nutrient; ecotones; vegetative filter strips; buffer strips; hydrological model; Pilica; diffuse pollution
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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MDPI and ACS Style

Piniewski, M.; Marcinkowski, P.; Kardel, I.; Giełczewski, M.; Izydorczyk, K.; Frątczak, W. Spatial Quantification of Non-Point Source Pollution in a Meso-Scale Catchment for an Assessment of Buffer Zones Efficiency. Water 2015, 7, 1889-1920.

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