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Water 2016, 8(8), 328;

Nitrate Pollution and Preliminary Source Identification of Surface Water in a Semi-Arid River Basin, Using Isotopic and Hydrochemical Approaches

College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Northwest University, Xi’an 710127, China
State Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming on the Loess Plateau, Institute of Soil and Water Conservation, CAS & MWR, Yangling 712100, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Y. Jun Xu
Received: 13 May 2016 / Revised: 22 July 2016 / Accepted: 26 July 2016 / Published: 3 August 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Tackling Complex Water Problems in China under Changing Environment)
PDF [3610 KB, uploaded 3 August 2016]


Nitrate contamination in rivers has raised widespread concern in the world, particularly in arid/semi-arid river basins lacking qualified water. Understanding the nitrate pollution levels and sources is critical to control the nitrogen input and promote a more sustainable water management in those basins. Water samples were collected from a typical semi-arid river basin, the Weihe River watershed, China, in October 2014. Hydrochemical assessment and nitrogen isotopic measurement were used to determine the level of nitrogen compounds and identify the sources of nitrate contamination. Approximately 32.4% of the water samples exceeded the World Health Organization (WHO) drinking water standard for NO3-N. Nitrate pollution in the main stream of the Weihe River was obviously much more serious than in the tributaries. The δ15N-NO3 of water samples ranged from +8.3‰ to +27.0‰. No significant effect of denitrification on the shift in nitrogen isotopic values in surface water was observed by high dissolved oxygen (DO) values and linear relationship diagram between NO3-N and δ15N-NO3, except in the Weihe River in Huayin County and Shitou River. Analyses of hydrochemistry and isotopic compositions indicate that domestic sewage and agricultural activities are the main sources of nitrate in the river. View Full-Text
Keywords: nitrate pollution; surface water; nitrogen isotope; hydrochemistry; source nitrate pollution; surface water; nitrogen isotope; hydrochemistry; source

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Xue, Y.; Song, J.; Zhang, Y.; Kong, F.; Wen, M.; Zhang, G. Nitrate Pollution and Preliminary Source Identification of Surface Water in a Semi-Arid River Basin, Using Isotopic and Hydrochemical Approaches. Water 2016, 8, 328.

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