Application of Isotopic Data to Water Resource Management

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 July 2020) | Viewed by 16577

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
L-231, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, CA 94550, USA
Interests: groundwater age dating; nitrogen cycling; inorganic contaminant attribution

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Guest Editor
Water Mission Area, US Geological Survey, 345 Middlefield RoadMenlo Park, CA 94025, USA
Interests: reactive transport; nitrogen cycling; stable isotope fractionation
L-231, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, CA 94550, USA
Interests: water age dating; analytical techniques; hydrochronology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Sustainable groundwater management relies on the use of isotopic techniques that are well established in groundwater research. These powerful tools include age tracers, dissolved gases, and stable isotopic compositions of water and nitrate. For example, groundwater ages have been used to map and quantify groundwater recharge and flow, to constrain the impacts of climate change on spring flow, to understand the source and timing of groundwater contamination, to identify “fossil” groundwater, and to demonstrate compliance with regulations governing recharge of recycled water. Similarly, stable isotope techniques have been used to identify the location and source of groundwater recharge, to identify nitrate sources and transport pathways, and to demonstrate denitrification in support of monitored natural attenuation. Recent advances in instrumentation have made stable isotope and dissolved gas analyses more accessible for both research scientists and water agencies. An important theme in current and future research is establishing how age tracer, dissolved gas, and stable isotope data can be used to optimize management of groundwater resources. This points to a need for more peer-reviewed case studies demonstrating the use of multi-isotope investigations to inform and guide real-world groundwater resource management.

This Special Issue solicits papers on the use of age tracers and stable isotopic compositions to sustainably manage groundwater quality and supply. Case studies of the use of isotopic data to support management decisions provide useful templates for designing future investigations and data-driven sustainable groundwater management. Methods for translating isotopic data into meaningful information about environmental processes and timescales range in complexity from simple conceptual models, groundwater flow and transport models, and advanced statistical methods. Contributions are encouraged to address the questions of how multi-isotope investigations provide more definitive constraints on sustainable management of water quality and supply than simpler investigations, and whether increasingly complex approaches provide new insights into environmental processes.

Dr. Bradley K. Esser
Dr. Christopher T. Green
Dr. Ate Visser
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • Groundwater hydrology
  • Groundwater age
  • Groundwater contamination
  • Sustainable groundwater management
  • Nitrate contamination
  • Denitrification

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

10 pages, 2453 KiB  
Article
Modified Hiltner Dew Balance to Re-Estimate Dewfall Accumulation as a Reliable Water Source in the Negev Desert
by Amber J. Hill, Noa Kekuewa Lincoln, Shimon Rachmilevitch and Oren Shelef
Water 2020, 12(10), 2952; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12102952 - 21 Oct 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2654
Abstract
Dew formation is an essential component of the water balance in dry ecosystems, but measuring dew is challenging due, in part, to its dependency on the surface on which it forms. We detail the use of a modified Hiltner dew balance to illustrate [...] Read more.
Dew formation is an essential component of the water balance in dry ecosystems, but measuring dew is challenging due, in part, to its dependency on the surface on which it forms. We detail the use of a modified Hiltner dew balance to illustrate how more accurate measurements of dewfall may be obtained. Using a modified Hiltner dew balance, we measured dewfall in the Negev Desert continuously for 3 years (2013–2015). Data analyses examined the relationship between dew formation, rain events and other environmental parameters in order to re-evaluate the importance of dew in the water budget. In line with previous research, our findings demonstrate that dewfall is a substantial and stable input of water in the Negev desert, providing inputs in the dry summer and the wet winter. Our results show that while dewfall was larger and more prevalent in proximity to rain events, a notable portion of dewfall took place on days distant from any rain event. The Hiltner dew balance modifications proved to be reliable and increased the efficacy of measuring the quantity and timing of dew formation. This study demonstrates the importance of integrating dewfall data into decision-making models for dryland ecosystems and agriculture, as well as into climate models. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Application of Isotopic Data to Water Resource Management)
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18 pages, 8046 KiB  
Article
Where Does the Chilean Aconcagua River Come from? Use of Natural Tracers for Water Genesis Characterization in Glacial and Periglacial Environments
by Sebastián Andrés Crespo, Céline Lavergne, Francisco Fernandoy, Ariel A. Muñoz, Leandro Cara and Simón Olfos-Vargas
Water 2020, 12(9), 2630; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12092630 - 21 Sep 2020
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 5245
Abstract
The Aconcagua river basin (Chile, 32 °S) has suffered the effects of the megadrought over the last decade. The severe snowfall deficiency drastically modified the water supply to the catchment headwaters. Despite the recognized snowmelt contribution to the basin, an unknown streamflow buffering [...] Read more.
The Aconcagua river basin (Chile, 32 °S) has suffered the effects of the megadrought over the last decade. The severe snowfall deficiency drastically modified the water supply to the catchment headwaters. Despite the recognized snowmelt contribution to the basin, an unknown streamflow buffering effect is produced by glacial, periglacial and groundwater inputs, especially in dry periods. Hence, each type of water source was characterized and quantified for each season, through the combination of stable isotope and ionic analyses as natural water tracers. The δ18O and electric conductivity were identified as the key parameters for the differentiation of each water source. The use of these parameters in the stable isotope mixing “simmr” model revealed that snowmelt input accounted 52% in spring and only 22–36% during the rest of the year in the headwaters. While glacial supply contributed up to 34%, both groundwater and periglacial exhibited a remarkable contribution around 20% with some seasonal variations. Downstream, glacial contribution averaged 15–20%, groundwater seasonally increased up to 46%, and periglacial input was surprisingly high (i.e., 14–21%). The different water sources contribution quantification over time for the Aconcagua River reported in this work provides key information for water security in this territory. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Application of Isotopic Data to Water Resource Management)
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29 pages, 4978 KiB  
Article
Baseline Groundwater Quality before Shale Gas Development in Xishui, Southwest China: Analyses of Hydrochemistry and Multiple Environmental Isotopes (2H, 18O, 13C, 87Sr/86Sr, 11B, and Noble Gas Isotopes)
by Zhenbin Li, Tianming Huang, Baoqiang Ma, Yin Long, Fen Zhang, Jiao Tian, Yiman Li and Zhonghe Pang
Water 2020, 12(6), 1741; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12061741 - 18 Jun 2020
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 3206
Abstract
The baseline quality of pre-drilling shallow groundwater is essential for the evaluation of potential environmental impacts of shale gas development. The Xishui region in the northern Guizhou Province of Southwest China has the potential for shale gas development but there is a lack [...] Read more.
The baseline quality of pre-drilling shallow groundwater is essential for the evaluation of potential environmental impacts of shale gas development. The Xishui region in the northern Guizhou Province of Southwest China has the potential for shale gas development but there is a lack of commercial production. As for the future environmental concerns in this undeveloped area, this study presented the hydrochemical and isotopic characteristics of shallow groundwater and its dissolved gas before shale gas development and determined the sensitive monitoring indicators. Results showed that shallow groundwater with an average pH of 7.73 had low total dissolved solids (TDS) ranging between 102 and 397 mg/L, with the main water chemistry types of HCO3-Ca and HCO3-Ca·Mg. The quality of most groundwater samples satisfied the drinking water standards of China. The mass concentration of dissolved methane in groundwater was below the detection limit (<0.01 mg/L), suggesting the low baseline value of hydrocarbon. The shallow groundwater was mainly recharged by local precipitation based on water isotopes. Water chemistry was modified by the dominant dissolution of carbonate rocks and partial dissolution of clastic rocks, as indicated by δ13C-DIC, 87Sr/86Sr, and δ11B. Evidence from carbon isotopes of dissolved methane and CO213C-CH4 and δ13C-CO2) and noble gas isotopes (3He/4He and 4He/20Ne) demonstrated that the biogenic methane mainly originated from acetate fermentation and the dissolved noble gas was a result of the dissolution of air. Based on the geochemical and isotopic differences between shallow groundwater and flowback and produced water (including shale gas) from the Weiyuan and Fuling shale gas fields as well as shale gas from Xishui, this study has provided the sensitive monitoring indicators and methods for identifying potential pollution of regional shallow groundwater related to shale gas development in the future. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Application of Isotopic Data to Water Resource Management)
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24 pages, 6022 KiB  
Article
Water–Isotope Capacity Building and Demonstration in a Developing World Context: Isotopic Baseline and Conceptualization of a Lake Malawi Catchment
by Limbikani C. Banda, Michael O. Rivett, Robert M. Kalin, Anold S.K. Zavison, Peaches Phiri, Laura Kelly, Geoffrey Chavula, Charles C. Kapachika, Macpherson Nkhata, Sydney Kamtukule, Prince Mleta and Muthi Nhlema
Water 2019, 11(12), 2600; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11122600 - 10 Dec 2019
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 4735
Abstract
Developing countries such as Malawi require improved access to isotope tracer tools to better characterize and manage water resources threatened by land development, deforestation and climate change. This is the first published study to use an isotope facility developed in Malawi for this [...] Read more.
Developing countries such as Malawi require improved access to isotope tracer tools to better characterize and manage water resources threatened by land development, deforestation and climate change. This is the first published study to use an isotope facility developed in Malawi for this purpose, instead of relying upon sample analyses from abroad. Results from this new facility are used to evaluate an important Lake Malawi catchment in the Rift Valley. This work successfully established a stable-isotope baseline, hydrochemical signatures, and system conceptualization against which future policy change and management strategies may be measured. Precipitation isotopic composition was consistent with the Global Meteoric Water Line, but varied, confirming different precipitation systems nationally. Groundwater largely followed a Local Meteoric Water Line, with limited isotopic variation indicating predominant areal groundwater recharge, but with dry-season evaporative enrichment of groundwater near Lake Malawi. Surface-water isotopes widely varied with local precipitation, suggesting the latter accounted for wet-season river flows, but upstream dambo (complex wetlands occupying a shallow, seasonal waterlogged depression) helped sustain dry-season flows. Isotope capacity reinforced water-resource conceptualization and provenance in a hydrologically complex, but not atypical, Rift Valley system, exhibiting a noted complexity of groundwater–surface-water interactions. The latter, critical to integrated water resource management, requires more focused study, to which an expanded array of isotopes will contribute to tracking Sustainable Development Goal 6 targets. This study and future catchment studies should help underpin Malawian water-resource policy implementation on several identified fronts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Application of Isotopic Data to Water Resource Management)
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