Special Issue "Integrated Water Resources Research: Advancements in Understanding to Improve Future Sustainability"

A special issue of Water (ISSN 2073-4441). This special issue belongs to the section "Water Resources Management, Policy and Governance".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 May 2020).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Jason A. Hubbart
Website1 Website2
Guest Editor
West Virginia University, Davis College of Agriculture Natural Resources and Design, Morgantown, United States
Interests: physical hydrology; watershed management; water quality; environmental biophysics

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Never, throughout human history, have pressures on water resources been greater than they are today. This is important considering that water is a cornerstone natural resource that provides the scaffolding for the natural environment and, thus, drives economic and social development. In response to increasing demands, difficult decisions are being made by managers that often include reallocations of the diminishing quantity and quality of the resource. However, cumulative anthropogenic drivers (e.g., land use, population growth, climate change) confound the uncertainties of decision-making, and many critical information gaps remain. This Special Issue of Water focuses on integrated and multidisciplinary water resources research that advances the understanding and sustainability of water resources. Articles will be considered that address all aspects of integrated and multidisciplinary water resources research, including (but not limited to) water quality, climate, ecohydrology, modeling, water economics, human dimensions of water, water governance, and stakeholder engagement. Articles may include advancements in effective ways of conducting integrated water research and communicating results to promote deliberate advancements in management, human well-being, and resource sustainability.

Prof. Dr. Jason A. Hubbart
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Water resources
  • Watershed management
  • Integrated water resources
  • Land use practices
  • Water sustainability
  • Water research

Published Papers (19 papers)

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Editorial

Jump to: Research, Review, Other

Open AccessEditorial
Integrated Water Resources Research: Advancements in Understanding to Improve Future Sustainability
Water 2020, 12(8), 2208; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12082208 - 06 Aug 2020
Abstract
Anthropogenic and natural disturbances to freshwater quantity and quality is a greater issue for society than ever before. To successfully restore water resources in impaired watersheds requires understanding the interactions between hydrology, climate, land use, water quality, ecology, social and economic pressures. Current [...] Read more.
Anthropogenic and natural disturbances to freshwater quantity and quality is a greater issue for society than ever before. To successfully restore water resources in impaired watersheds requires understanding the interactions between hydrology, climate, land use, water quality, ecology, social and economic pressures. Current understanding of these interactions is limited primarily by a lack of innovation, investment, and interdisciplinary collaboration. This Special Issue of Water includes 18 articles broadly addressing investigative areas related to experimental study designs and modeling (n = 8), freshwater pollutants of concern (n = 7), and human dimensions of water use and management (n = 3). Results demonstrate the immense, globally transferable value of the experimental watershed approach, the relevance and critical importance of current integrated studies of pollutants of concern, and the imperative to include human sociological and economic processes in water resources investigations. Study results encourage cooperation, trust and innovation, between watershed stakeholders to reach common goals to improve and sustain the resource. The publications in this Special Issue are substantial; however, managers remain insufficiently informed to make best water resource decisions amidst combined influences of land use change, rapid ongoing human population growth, and changing environmental conditions. There is thus, a persistent need for further advancements in integrated and interdisciplinary research to improve scientific understanding, management and future sustainability of water resources. Full article

Research

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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
A Comparison and Validation of Saturated Hydraulic Conductivity Models
Water 2020, 12(7), 2040; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12072040 - 18 Jul 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
Saturated hydraulic conductivity (Ksat) is fundamental to shallow groundwater processes. There is an ongoing need for observed and model validated Ksat values. A study was initiated in a representative catchment of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed in the Northeast USA, [...] Read more.
Saturated hydraulic conductivity (Ksat) is fundamental to shallow groundwater processes. There is an ongoing need for observed and model validated Ksat values. A study was initiated in a representative catchment of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed in the Northeast USA, to collect observed Ksat and validate five Ksat pedotransfer functions. Soil physical characteristics were quantified for dry bulk density (bdry), porosity, and soil texture, while Ksat was quantified using piezometric slug tests. Average bdry and porosity ranged from 1.03 to 1.30 g/cm3 and 0.51 to 0.61, respectively. Surface soil (0–5 cm) bdry and porosity were significantly (p < 0.05) lower and higher, respectively, than deeper soils (i.e., 25–30 cm; 45–50 cm). bdry and porosity were significantly different with location (p < 0.05). Average soil composition was 92% sand. Average Ksat ranged from 0.29 to 4.76 m/day and significantly differed (p < 0.05) by location. Four models showed that spatial variability in farm-scale Ksat estimates was small (CV < 0.5) and one model performed better when Ksat was 1.5 to 2.5 m/day. The two-parameter model that relied on silt/clay fractions performed best (ME = 0.78 m/day; SSE = 20.68 m2/day2; RMSE = 1.36 m/day). Results validate the use of simple, soil-property-based models to predict Ksat, thereby increasing model applicability and transferability. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
A Spatially Distributed Investigation of Stream Water Temperature in a Contemporary Mixed-Land-Use Watershed
Water 2020, 12(6), 1756; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12061756 - 20 Jun 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
Stream water temperature (°C) is an important physical variable that influences many biological and abiotic water quality processes. The intermingled mosaic of land-use/land-cover (LULC) types and corresponding variability in stream water temperature (Tw) processes in contemporary mixed-land-use watersheds necessitate research to advance management [...] Read more.
Stream water temperature (°C) is an important physical variable that influences many biological and abiotic water quality processes. The intermingled mosaic of land-use/land-cover (LULC) types and corresponding variability in stream water temperature (Tw) processes in contemporary mixed-land-use watersheds necessitate research to advance management and policy decisions. Water temperature was analyzed from 21 gauging sites using a nested-scale experimental watershed study design. Results showed that forested land use was negatively correlated (α = 0.05) with mean and maximum Tw. Agricultural land use was significantly positively correlated (α = 0.05) with maximum Tw except during the spring season. Mixed development and Tw were significantly correlated (α = 0.05) at quarterly and monthly timescales. Correlation trends in some reaches were reversed between the winter and summer seasons, contradicting previous research. During the winter season, mixed development showed a negative relationship with minimum Tw and mean Tw. During the summer season, higher minimum, maximum, and mean Tw correlations were observed. Advanced understanding generated through this high-resolution investigation improves land managers’ ability to improve conservation strategies in freshwater aquatic ecosystems of contemporary watersheds. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Spatial and Temporal Characterization of Escherichia coli, Suspended Particulate Matter and Land Use Practice Relationships in a Mixed-Land Use Contemporary Watershed
Water 2020, 12(5), 1228; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12051228 - 25 Apr 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Understanding land use practice induced increases in Escherichia (E.) coli and suspended particulate matter (SPM) concentrations is necessary to improve water quality. Weekly stream water samples were collected from 22 stream gauging sites with varying land use practices in a representative contemporary mixed-land [...] Read more.
Understanding land use practice induced increases in Escherichia (E.) coli and suspended particulate matter (SPM) concentrations is necessary to improve water quality. Weekly stream water samples were collected from 22 stream gauging sites with varying land use practices in a representative contemporary mixed-land use watershed of the eastern USA. Over the period of one annual year, Escherichia (E.) coli colony forming units (CFU per 100 mL) were compared to suspended particulate matter (SPM) concentrations (mg/L) and land use practices. Agricultural land use sub-catchments comprised elevated E. coli concentrations (avg. 560 CFU per 100 mL) compared to proximate mixed development (avg. 330 CFU per 100 mL) and forested (avg. 206 CFU per 100 mL) sub-catchments. Additionally, agricultural land use showed statistically significant relationships (p < 0.01) between annual E. coli and SPM concentration data. Quarterly PCA biplots displayed temporal variability in land use impacts on E. coli and SPM concentrations, with agricultural land use being closely correlated with both pollutants during Quarters 2 and 3 but not Quarters 1 and 4. The data collected during this investigation advance the understanding of land use impacts on fecal contamination in receiving waters, thereby informing land use managers on the best management practices to reduce exposure risks. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Advancing Understanding of Land Use and Physicochemical Impacts on Fecal Contamination in Mixed-Land-Use Watersheds
Water 2020, 12(4), 1094; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12041094 - 12 Apr 2020
Cited by 3
Abstract
Understanding mixed-land-use practices and physicochemical influences on Escherichia (E.) coli concentrations is necessary to improve water quality management and human health. Weekly stream water samples and physicochemical data were collected from 22 stream gauging sites representing varying land use practices in a contemporary [...] Read more.
Understanding mixed-land-use practices and physicochemical influences on Escherichia (E.) coli concentrations is necessary to improve water quality management and human health. Weekly stream water samples and physicochemical data were collected from 22 stream gauging sites representing varying land use practices in a contemporary Appalachian watershed of the eastern USA. Over the period of one annual year, Escherichia (E.) coli colony forming units (CFU) per 100 mL were compared to physicochemical parameters and land use practices. Annual average E. coli concentration increased by approximately 112% from acid mine drainage (AMD) impacted headwaters to the lower reaches of the watershed (approximate averages of 177 CFU per 100 mL vs. 376 CFU per 100 mL, respectively). Significant Spearman’s correlations (p < 0.05) were identified from analyses of pH and E. coli concentration data representing 77% of sample sites; thus highlighting legacy effects of historic mining (AMD) on microbial water quality. A tipping point of 25–30% mixed development was identified as leading to significant (p < 0.05) negative correlations between chloride and E. coli concentrations. Study results advance understanding of land use and physicochemical impacts on fecal contamination in mixed-land-use watersheds, aiding in the implementation of effective water quality management practices and policies. Full article
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Net Ecosystem Production of a River Relying on Hydrology, Hydrodynamics and Water Quality Monitoring Stations
Water 2020, 12(3), 783; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12030783 - 12 Mar 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Flow and water quality of rivers are highly dynamic. Water quantity and quality are subjected to simultaneous physical, chemical and biological processes making it difficult to accurately assess lotic ecosystems. Our study investigated net ecosystem production (NEP) relying on high-frequency data of hydrology, [...] Read more.
Flow and water quality of rivers are highly dynamic. Water quantity and quality are subjected to simultaneous physical, chemical and biological processes making it difficult to accurately assess lotic ecosystems. Our study investigated net ecosystem production (NEP) relying on high-frequency data of hydrology, hydrodynamics and water quality. The Kanawha River, West Virginia was investigated along 52.8 km to estimate NEP. Water quality data were collected along the river using three distributed multiprobe sondes that measured water temperature, dissolved oxygen, dissolved oxygen saturation, specific conductance, turbidity and ORP hourly for 71 days. Flows along the river were predicted by means of the hydrologic and hydrodynamic models in Hydrologic Simulation Program in Fortran (HSPF). It was found that urban local inflows were correlated with NEP. However, under hypoxic conditions, local inflows were correlated with specific conductance. Thus, our approach represents an effort for the systematic integration of data derived from models and field measurements with the aim of providing an improved assessment of lotic ecosystems. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Twenty-First Century Streamflow and Climate Change in Forest Catchments of the Central Appalachian Mountains Region, US
Water 2020, 12(2), 453; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12020453 - 08 Feb 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
Forested catchments are critical sources of freshwater used by society, but anthropogenic climate change can alter the amount of precipitation partitioned into streamflow and evapotranspiration, threatening their role as reliable fresh water sources. One such region in the eastern US is the heavily [...] Read more.
Forested catchments are critical sources of freshwater used by society, but anthropogenic climate change can alter the amount of precipitation partitioned into streamflow and evapotranspiration, threatening their role as reliable fresh water sources. One such region in the eastern US is the heavily forested central Appalachian Mountains region that provides fresh water to local and downstream metropolitan areas. Despite the hydrological importance of this region, the sensitivity of forested catchments to climate change and the implications for long-term water balance partitioning are largely unknown. We used long-term historic (1950–2004) and future (2005–2099) ensemble climate and water balance data and a simple energy–water balance model to quantify streamflow sensitivity and project future streamflow changes for 29 forested catchments under two future Relative Concentration Pathways. We found that streamflow is expected to increase under the low-emission pathway and decrease under the high-emission pathway. Furthermore, despite the greater sensitivity of streamflow to precipitation, larger increases in atmospheric demand offset increases in precipitation-induced streamflow, resulting in moderate changes in long-term water availability in the future. Catchment-scale results are summarized across basins and the region to provide water managers and decision makers with information about climate change at scales relevant to decision making. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Flow-Mediated Vulnerability of Source Waters to Elevated TDS in an Appalachian River Basin
Water 2020, 12(2), 384; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12020384 - 31 Jan 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Widespread salinization—and, in a broader sense, an increase in all total dissolved solids (TDS)—is threatening freshwater ecosystems and the services they provide (e.g., drinking water provision). We used a mixed modeling approach to characterize long-term (2010–2018) spatio-temporal variability in TDS within the Monongahela [...] Read more.
Widespread salinization—and, in a broader sense, an increase in all total dissolved solids (TDS)—is threatening freshwater ecosystems and the services they provide (e.g., drinking water provision). We used a mixed modeling approach to characterize long-term (2010–2018) spatio-temporal variability in TDS within the Monongahela River basin and used this information to assess the extent and drivers of vulnerability. The West Fork River was predicted to exceed 500 mg/L a total of 133 days. Occurrence and duration (maximum = 28 days) of—and thus vulnerability to—exceedances within the West Fork River were driven by low flows. Projected decreases in mean daily discharge by ≤10 cfs resulted in an additional 34 days exceeding 500 mg/L. Consistently low TDS within the Tygart Valley and Cheat Rivers reduced vulnerability of the receiving Monongahela River to elevated TDS which was neither observed (maximum = 419 mg/L) nor predicted (341 mg/L) to exceed the secondary drinking water standard of 500 mg/L. Potential changes in future land use and/or severity of low-flow conditions could increase vulnerability of the Monongahela River to elevated TDS. Management should include efforts to increase assimilative capacity by identifying and decreasing sources of TDS. Upstream reservoirs could be managed toward low-flow thresholds; however, further study is needed to ensure all authorized reservoir purposes could be maintained. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Assessing Regional Scale Water Balances through Remote Sensing Techniques: A Case Study of Boufakrane River Watershed, Meknes Region, Morocco
Water 2020, 12(2), 320; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12020320 - 21 Jan 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
This paper aims to develop a method to assess regional water balances using remote sensing techniques. The Boufakrane river watershed in Meknes Region (Morocco), which is characterized by both a strong urbanization and a rural land use change, is taken as a study [...] Read more.
This paper aims to develop a method to assess regional water balances using remote sensing techniques. The Boufakrane river watershed in Meknes Region (Morocco), which is characterized by both a strong urbanization and a rural land use change, is taken as a study case. Firstly, changes in land cover were mapped by classifying remote sensing images (Thematic Mapper, Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus and Operational Land Imager) at a medium scale resolution for the years 1990, 2003 and 2018. By means of supervised classification procedures the following land cover categories could be mapped: forests, bare soil, arboriculture, arable land and urban area. For each of these categories a water balance was developed for the different time periods, taking into account changing management and consumption patterns. Finally, the land cover maps were combined with the land cover specific water balances resulting in a total water balance for the selected catchment. The procedure was validated by comparing the assessments with data from water supply stations and the number of licensed ground water extraction pumps. In terms of land use/land cover changes (LULCC), the results showed that urban areas, natural vegetation, arboriculture and cereals increased by 183.74%, 12.55%, 34.99 and 48.77% respectively while forests and bare soils decreased by 78.65% and 16.78% respectively. On the other hand, water consumption has been increased significantly due to the Meknes city growth, the arboriculture expansion and the new crops’ introduction in the arable areas. The increased water consumption by human activities is largely due to reduced water losses through evapotranspiration because of deforestation. Since the major part of the forest in the catchment has disappeared, a further increase of the water consumption by human activities can no longer be offset by deforestation. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Efficiency Analysis of the Input for Water-Saving Agriculture in China
Water 2020, 12(1), 207; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12010207 - 11 Jan 2020
Cited by 4
Abstract
To optimize the installation distribution of water-saving techniques and improve the efficiency of water-saving agricultural inputs, we used a three-stage data envelopment analysis (DEA) model and Chinese provincial panel data from 2014 to 2016 to analyze the input efficiency of the water-saving irrigation. [...] Read more.
To optimize the installation distribution of water-saving techniques and improve the efficiency of water-saving agricultural inputs, we used a three-stage data envelopment analysis (DEA) model and Chinese provincial panel data from 2014 to 2016 to analyze the input efficiency of the water-saving irrigation. This study explores the efficiency derived from the efforts of water-saving initiatives in the agricultural sector in China. We present the impacts of factors such as technology, scale, diminishing marginal revenue, and crop water requirements on the research results. We found overall efficiency of water-saving irrigation is increasing nationally. The efficiency of water-saving irrigation input will significantly increase if management and organization of the input improve. Increasing the investment in areas with increasing marginal revenue would improve the local agricultural water-saving input efficiency in areas such as Hainan, Chongqing, Guizhou, Tibet, and Qinghai; although in areas with large water requirement for major crops, such as Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang, the efficiency of water-saving irrigation is generally high. Shanxi requires a large amount of water as the efficiency of agricultural water-saving input is 0.07, which is relatively lower than the average efficiency of all regions (0.39). The cultivated area index and the GDP per capita had no significant effect on the irrigation input efficiency. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Resilient Urban Water Services for the 21th Century Society—Stakeholder Survey in Finland
Water 2020, 12(1), 187; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12010187 - 09 Jan 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Resilience has become a vital theme in the discussion concerning urban water services. Resilience in this context can be defined as both keeping up a good level of services, as well as rapid and fluent recovery from failures caused by natural disasters, unsound [...] Read more.
Resilience has become a vital theme in the discussion concerning urban water services. Resilience in this context can be defined as both keeping up a good level of services, as well as rapid and fluent recovery from failures caused by natural disasters, unsound infrastructure or incorrect management. Although adequate water services resilience can be considered as sustainable, resilience is a wider concept than sustainability. In order to call water services resilient, all sections from policy and management to technical operation should be clear and coherent, and their operation in challenging situations also must be guaranteed. This study seeks a resilient approach to water services through a literature review, and a questionnaire to stakeholders; mainly water supply and sanitation experts. The results show that sufficient technology and good water quality are not sufficient for achieving resilient water services, but also education and institutional management are essential issues. These are accomplished by a methodical education system, capacity building, and good governance. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Factors Influencing the Adoption of Water Conservation Technologies by Smallholder Farmer Households in Tanzania
Water 2019, 11(12), 2640; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11122640 - 13 Dec 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
In Tanzania, the increasing population coupled with climate change amplifies issues of food insecurity and negatively impacts the livelihoods of smallholder farmer households. To address these issues a range of water conservation techniques (WCTs) have been useful. However, the adoption of these WCTs [...] Read more.
In Tanzania, the increasing population coupled with climate change amplifies issues of food insecurity and negatively impacts the livelihoods of smallholder farmer households. To address these issues a range of water conservation techniques (WCTs) have been useful. However, the adoption of these WCTs in Tanzania has been limited due to many reasons. With the objective to better understand and identify the factors that significantly influence the adoption of WCTs in Tanzania, the study uses survey data from 701 smallholder farmer households and a bivariate logistic regression, to provide, for the first time, a comprehensive model for the adoption of WCTs in Tanzania that includes a range of individual, household, socio-economic, and farmer perception related variables (factors). The evaluation shows that 120 farmers (17.12%) adopted WCTs and finds the farmer perceptions of rainfall instability, household wealth, and food security to be crucial. The results suggest that policy interventions should encourage conservation behavior (especially when the rainfall is perceived to be uncertain), emphasize the economic and food security-related benefits of adopting WCTs, include strategies that make adoption of WCTs attractive to female-led households, attempt to reach greater number of farmers via social networks and provide better access to public funds for farmers. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
A Case-Study Application of the Experimental Watershed Study Design to Advance Adaptive Management of Contemporary Watersheds
Water 2019, 11(11), 2355; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11112355 - 09 Nov 2019
Cited by 7
Abstract
Land managers are often inadequately informed to make management decisions in contemporary watersheds, in which sources of impairment are simultaneously shifting due to the combined influences of land use change, rapid ongoing human population growth, and changing environmental conditions. There is, thus, a [...] Read more.
Land managers are often inadequately informed to make management decisions in contemporary watersheds, in which sources of impairment are simultaneously shifting due to the combined influences of land use change, rapid ongoing human population growth, and changing environmental conditions. There is, thus, a great need for effective collaborative adaptive management (CAM; or derivatives) efforts utilizing an accepted methodological approach that provides data needed to properly identify and address past, present, and future sources of impairment. The experimental watershed study design holds great promise for meeting such needs and facilitating an effective collaborative and adaptive management process. To advance understanding of natural and anthropogenic influences on sources of impairment, and to demonstrate the approach in a contemporary watershed, a nested-scale experimental watershed study design was implemented in a representative, contemporary, mixed-use watershed located in Midwestern USA. Results identify challenges associated with CAM, and how the experimental watershed approach can help to objectively elucidate causal factors, target critical source areas, and provide the science-based information needed to make informed management decisions. Results show urban/suburban development and agriculture are primary drivers of alterations to watershed hydrology, streamflow regimes, transport of multiple water quality constituents, and stream physical habitat. However, several natural processes and watershed characteristics, such as surficial geology and stream system evolution, are likely compounding observed water quality impairment and aquatic habitat degradation. Given the varied and complicated set of factors contributing to such issues in the study watershed and other contemporary watersheds, watershed restoration is likely subject to physical limitations and should be conceptualized in the context of achievable goals/objectives. Overall, results demonstrate the immense, globally transferrable value of the experimental watershed approach and coupled CAM process to address contemporary water resource management challenges. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Influence of Location on Water Quality Perceptions across a Geographic and Socioeconomic Gradient in Appalachia
Water 2019, 11(11), 2225; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11112225 - 25 Oct 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Understanding perceptions of water quality held by residents is critical to address gaps in public awareness and knowledge and may provide insight into what defines communities that are more/less resilient to changing water conditions locally. We sought to identify spatial patterns of water [...] Read more.
Understanding perceptions of water quality held by residents is critical to address gaps in public awareness and knowledge and may provide insight into what defines communities that are more/less resilient to changing water conditions locally. We sought to identify spatial patterns of water quality perceptions gathered in a survey of Southern West Virginia (WV) residents during spring/summer 2018. Using over 500 survey responses across 15 counties, we calculated spatial autocorrelation metrics and modeled the relationships between overall water quality perceptions and county-level socioeconomic endpoints, such as poverty rate, per capita income, and education level. We identified significant differences across counties labeled as socioeconomically “transitional”, “at-risk”, and “distressed”, as it pertained to responses for water quality perceptions, education level, and income level. We also found significant positive relationships between overall water quality perceptions, elevation, and income level. We calculated an empirical semivariogram and fit an exponential model to explain a significant autocorrelation pattern within a range of 104.2 km. Using that semivariance function, we created a kriging interpolation surface across the study area to identify significant clusters of water quality perceptions. This work highlights the influence of location on water quality perceptions within Southern West Virginia, but the analytical framework should be considered in further research, when samples are spread across large areas with varying socioeconomics. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Climatic Trends of West Virginia: A Representative Appalachian Microcosm
Water 2019, 11(6), 1117; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11061117 - 28 May 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
During the late 19th and very early 20th centuries widespread deforestation occurred across the Appalachian region, USA. However, since the early 20th century, land cover rapidly changed from predominantly agricultural land use (72%; 1909) to forest. West Virginia (WV) is now the USA’s [...] Read more.
During the late 19th and very early 20th centuries widespread deforestation occurred across the Appalachian region, USA. However, since the early 20th century, land cover rapidly changed from predominantly agricultural land use (72%; 1909) to forest. West Virginia (WV) is now the USA’s third most forested state by area (79%; 1989–present). It is well understood that land cover alterations feedback on climate with important implications for ecology, water resources, and watershed management. However, the spatiotemporal distribution of climatic changes during reforestation in WV remains unclear. To fill this knowledge gap, daily maximum temperature, minimum temperature, and precipitation data were acquired for eighteen observation sites with long periods of record (POR; ≥77 years). Results indicate an increasingly wet and temperate WV climate characterized by warming summertime minimum temperatures, cooling maximum temperatures year-round, and increased annual precipitation that accelerated during the second half (1959–2016) of the POR. Trends are elevation dependent and may be accelerating due to local to regional ecohydrological feedbacks including increasing forest age and density, changing forest species composition, and increasing globally averaged atmospheric moisture. Furthermore, results imply that excessive wetness may become the primary ecosystem stressor associated with climate change in the USA’s rugged and flood prone Appalachian region. The Appalachian region’s physiographic complexity and history of widespread land use changes makes climatic changes particularly dynamic. Therefore, mechanistic understanding of micro- to mesoscale climate changes is imperative to better inform decision makers and ensure preservation of the region’s rich natural resources. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Characterizing Land Use Impacts on Channel Geomorphology and Streambed Sedimentological Characteristics
Water 2019, 11(5), 1088; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11051088 - 24 May 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
Land use can radically degrade stream physical habitat via alterations to channel geomorphology and sedimentological characteristics. However, independent and combined influences such as those of agricultural and urban land use practices on channel geomorphology and substrate composition remain poorly understood. To further understanding [...] Read more.
Land use can radically degrade stream physical habitat via alterations to channel geomorphology and sedimentological characteristics. However, independent and combined influences such as those of agricultural and urban land use practices on channel geomorphology and substrate composition remain poorly understood. To further understanding of mixed land use influence on stream physical habitat, an intensive, 56 km hydrogeomorphological assessment was undertaken in a representative mixed land use watershed located in Midwestern USA. Sub-objectives included quantitative characterization of (1) channel geomorphology, (2) substrate frequency and embeddedness, and (3) relationships between land use, channel geomorphology, and substrate frequency and embeddedness. Channel geomorphology, and stream substrate data were directly measured at survey transects (n = 561) every 100 m of the entire 56 km distance of the reference stream. Observed data were averaged within five sub-basins (Sites #1 to #5) nested across an agricultural-urban land use gradient. Multiple regression results showed agricultural and urban land use explained nearly all of the variance in average width to depth ratios (R2 = 0.960; p = 0.020; n = 5), and maximum bank angle (R2 = 0.896; p = 0.052; n = 5). Streambed substrate samples of pools indicated significantly (p < 0.001) increased substrate embeddedness at agricultural Site #1 (80%) located in the headwaters and urban Site #5 (79%) located in the lower reaches compared to rural-urban Sites #2 to #4 (39 to 57%) located in the mid-reaches of the study stream. Streambed substrate embeddedness samples of riffles that ranged from 51 to 72% at Sites #1 and #5, and 27 to 46% at Sites #2 to #4 were significantly different between sites (p = 0.013). Percent embeddedness increased with downstream distance by 5% km−1 with the lower urban reaches indicating symptoms of urban stream syndrome linked to degraded riffle habitat. Collectively, observed alterations to channel morphology and substrate composition point to land use alterations to channel geomorphology metrics correlated with increased substrate embeddedness outside of mid-reaches where bedrock channel constraints accounted for less than 3% of substrate frequency. Results from this study show how a hydrogeomorphological assessment can help elucidate casual factors, target critical source areas, and thus, guide regional stream restoration efforts of mixed-land-use watersheds. Full article
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Physical Factors Impacting the Survival and Occurrence of Escherichia coli in Secondary Habitats
Water 2020, 12(6), 1796; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12061796 - 23 Jun 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Escherichia (E.) coli is a fecal microbe that inhabits the intestines of endotherms (primary habitat) and the natural environment (secondary habitats). Due to prevailing thinking regarding the limited capacity of E. coli to survive in the environment, relatively few published investigations exist regarding [...] Read more.
Escherichia (E.) coli is a fecal microbe that inhabits the intestines of endotherms (primary habitat) and the natural environment (secondary habitats). Due to prevailing thinking regarding the limited capacity of E. coli to survive in the environment, relatively few published investigations exist regarding environmental factors influencing E. coli’s survival. To help guide future research in this area, an overview of factors known to impact the survival of E. coli in the environment is provided. Notably, the lack of historic field-based research holds two important implications: (1) large knowledge gaps regarding environmental factors influencing E. coli’s survival in the environment exist; and (2) the efficacy of implemented management strategies have rarely been assessed on larger field scales, thus leaving their actual impact(s) largely unknown. Moreover, the persistence of E. coli in the environment calls into question its widespread and frequent use as a fecal indicator microorganism. To address these shortcomings, future work should include more field-based studies, occurring in diverse physiographical regions and over larger spatial extents. This information will provide scientists and land-use managers with a new understanding regarding factors influencing E. coli concentrations in its secondary habitat, thereby providing insight to address problematic fecal contamination effectively. Full article
Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceReview
Potential Health Risks Linked to Emerging Contaminants in Major Rivers and Treated Waters
Water 2019, 11(12), 2615; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11122615 - 11 Dec 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
The presence of endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) in our local waterways is becoming an increasing threat to the surrounding population. These compounds and their degradation products (found in pesticides, herbicides, and plastic waste) are known to interfere with a range of biological functions from [...] Read more.
The presence of endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) in our local waterways is becoming an increasing threat to the surrounding population. These compounds and their degradation products (found in pesticides, herbicides, and plastic waste) are known to interfere with a range of biological functions from reproduction to differentiation. To better understand these effects, we used an in silico ontological pathway analysis to identify the genes affected by the most commonly detected EDCs in large river water supplies, which we grouped together based on four common functions: Organismal injuries, cell death, cancer, and behavior. In addition to EDCs, we included the opioid buprenorphine in our study, as this similar ecological threat has become increasingly detected in river water supplies. Through the identification of the pleiotropic biological effects associated with both the acute and chronic exposure to EDCs and opioids in local water supplies, our results highlight a serious health threat worthy of additional investigations with a potential emphasis on the effects linked to increased DNA damage. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperCase Report
Quantifying Escherichia coli and Suspended Particulate Matter Concentrations in a Mixed-Land Use Appalachian Watershed
Water 2020, 12(2), 532; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12020532 - 14 Feb 2020
Cited by 6
Abstract
The relationships between Escherichia (E) coli concentration, suspended particulate matter (SPM) particle size class, and land use practices are important in reducing the bacterium’s persistence and health risks. However, surprisingly few studies have been performed that quantify these relationships. Conceivably, such information would [...] Read more.
The relationships between Escherichia (E) coli concentration, suspended particulate matter (SPM) particle size class, and land use practices are important in reducing the bacterium’s persistence and health risks. However, surprisingly few studies have been performed that quantify these relationships. Conceivably, such information would advance mitigation strategies for practices that address specific SPM size classes and, by proxy, E. coli concentration. To advance this needed area of research, stream water was sampled from varying dominant land use practices in West Run Watershed, a representative mixed-land use Appalachian watershed of West Virginia in the eastern USA. Water samples were filtered into three SPM intervals (<5 µm; 5 µm to 60 μm; and >60 μm) and the E. coli concentration (colony forming units, CFU) and SPM of each interval was quantified. Statistically significant relationships were identified between E. coli concentrations and size intervals (α < 0.0001), and SPM (α = 0.05). The results show a predominance (90% of total) of E. coli CFUs in the <5 μm SPM interval. The results show that land use practices impact the relationships between SPM and E. coli concentrations. Future work should include additional combined factors that influence bacterial CFUs and SPM, including hydrology, climate, geochemistry and nutrients. Full article
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