Water2014, 6(12), 3727-3738; doi:10.3390/w6123727 (registering DOI) - published 28 November 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The article “Characteristics of Point Recharge in Karst Aquifers, Water 6: 2782–2807” by N. Somaratne evaluates various recharge estimation techniques applied to four limestone aquifers in South Australia. Somaratne  concludes that methods based on watertable fluctuations, groundwater modelling and water budgets are independent of recharge processes, and are therefore superior to the chloride mass balance (CMB) approach for karst aquifers. The current comment offers alternative interpretations from existing field measurements and previous literature, in particular for the Uley South aquifer, which is the focus of much of the article by Somaratne . Conclusions regarding this system are revised, partly to account for the misrepresentation of previous studies. The aeolianite sediments of Uley South are mostly unconsolidated or poorly consolidated, and dissolution features in the calcrete capping provide point infiltration into a predominantly unconsolidated vadose zone, whereas Somaratne’s  findings require that the system comprises well-developed conduits in otherwise low-conductivity limestone. Somaratne’s  assertion that the basic premise of CMB is violated in Uley South is disputable, given strong evidence of relatively well-mixed groundwater arising from mostly diffuse recharge. The characterization of karst aquifer recharge should continue to rely on multiple techniques, including environmental tracers such as chloride.
Water2014, 6(12), 3724-3726; doi:10.3390/w6123724 (registering DOI) - published 28 November 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: This editorial provides an overview of the special issue “Wetlands and Sustainability”. In particular, the special issue contains a review of Paul Keddy’s book “Wetland Ecology” with specific reference to wetland sustainability. It also includes papers addressing wetland data acquisition via radar and remote sensing to better understand wetland system dynamics, hydrologic processes linked to wetland stress and restoration, coastal wetlands land use conflict/management, and wetland utilization for water quality treatment.
Water2014, 6(12), 3701-3723; doi:10.3390/w6123701 (registering DOI) - published 28 November 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Most of the waterborne disease outbreaks observed in North America are associated with rural drinking water systems. The majority of the reported waterborne outbreaks are related to microbial agents (parasites, bacteria and viruses). Rural areas are characterized by high livestock density and lack of advanced treatment systems for animal and human waste, and wastewater. Animal waste from livestock production facilities is often applied to land without prior treatment. Biosolids (treated municipal wastewater sludge) from large wastewater facilities in urban areas are often transported and applied to land in rural areas. This situation introduces a potential for risk of human exposure to waterborne contaminants such as human and zoonotic pathogens originating from manure, biosolids, and leaking septic systems. This paper focuses on waterborne outbreaks and sources of microbial pollution in rural areas in the US, characterization of the microbial load of biosolids and manure, association of biosolid and manure application with microbial contamination of surface and groundwater, risk assessment and best management practice for biosolids and manure application to protect water quality. Gaps in knowledge are identified, and recommendations to improve the water quality in the rural areas are discussed.
Water2014, 6(12), 3671-3700; doi:10.3390/w6123671 (registering DOI) - published 28 November 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The impact of climate change and Baltic Sea level rise on groundwater resources in a shallow, unconfined, low-lying coastal aquifer in Hanko, southern Finland, was assessed using the UZF1 model package coupled with the three-dimensional groundwater flow model MODFLOW to simulate flow from the unsaturated zone through the aquifer. The snow and PET models were used to calculate the surface water availability for infiltration from the precipitation data used in UZF1. Infiltration rate, flow in the unsaturated zone and groundwater recharge were then simulated using UZF1. The simulation data from climate and sea level rise scenarios were compared with present data. The results indicated changes in recharge pattern during 2071–2100, with recharge occurring earlier in winter and early spring. The seasonal impacts of climate change on groundwater recharge were more significant, with surface overflow resulting in flooding during winter and early spring and drought during summer. Rising sea level would cause some parts of the aquifer to be under sea level, compromising groundwater quality due to intrusion of sea water. This, together with increased groundwater recharge, would raise groundwater levels and consequently contribute more surface leakage and potential flooding in the low-lying aquifer.
Water2014, 6(12), 3652-3670; doi:10.3390/w6123652 - published 27 November 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: A damaging hydrogeological event (DHE) is characterized by two components: a rainfall event and a subsequent damage event, which is the result of floods and landslides triggered by rainfall. The characteristics of both events depend on climatic, geomorphological and anthropogenic factors. In this paper, a methodology to classify the severity of DHEs is presented. A chart which considers indicators of both the damage (Dscore) and the daily rainfall (Rscore) values recorded in the study area is proposed. According to the chart, the events are classified into four types: ordinary events, with low Dscore and Rscore values; extraordinary events, with high Rscore values but low Dscore values; catastrophic events, characterized by non-exceptional rainfall (low Rscore) and severe damage (high Dscore); major catastrophic events, obtained by both high Dscore and Rscore values. Using this approach, the 2013 DHE that occurred in Calabria (Italy) was classified as an ordinary event, when compared to the previous ones, even though the widespread diffusion of damage data induced the perception of high severity damage. The rainfall that triggered this event confirms the negative trend of heavy daily precipitation detected in Calabria, and the damage can be ascribed more to sub-daily than daily rainfall affecting urbanized flood-prone areas.
Water2014, 6(12), 3631-3651; doi:10.3390/w6123631 - published 27 November 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: This study assesses the impact of hydroelectric dams on the discharge and total suspended solids (TSS) concentration in the Huong River basin in Vietnam. The analysis is based on hydrologic and sediment transport simulations by the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model driven by the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) 3B42V6 rainfall data, from January 2003 through December 2010. An upstream sub-basin not affected by the hydroelectric dams was used for model calibration. The calibration results indicate good agreement between simulated and observed daily data (0.67 Nash-Sutcliffe efficiency, 0.82 Pearson correlation coefficient). The calibrated model for discharge and TSS simulation is then applied on another major sub-basin and then the whole Huong River basin. The simulation results indicate that dam operation in 2010 decreased downstream discharge during the rainy season by about 35% and augmented it during the dry season by about 226%. The downstream TSS concentration has decreased due to the dam operation but the total sediment loading increased during the dry season and decreased during the rainy season. On average, the dam construction and operation affected the pattern of discharge more than that of the sediment loading. Results indicate that SWAT, driven by remotely sensed inputs, can reasonably simulate discharge and water quality in ungauged or poorly gauged river basins and can be very useful for water resources assessment and climate change impact studies in such basins.