Special Issue "Watershed Water Environment and Hydrology under the Influence of Anthropogenic and Natural Processes"

A special issue of Water (ISSN 2073-4441). This special issue belongs to the section "Water Quality and Contamination".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 January 2022.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Guilin Han
E-Mail Website1 Website2
Guest Editor
Institute of Earth Sciences, China University of Geosciences (Beijing), Beijing 100083, China
Interests: environment geochemistry; hydro-geochemistry; water chemistry; soil geochemistry; isotope geochemistry; chemical weathering; carbon cycle
Prof. Dr. Zhifang Xu
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Institute of Geology and Geophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100029, China
Interests: environment geochemistry; hydrogeochemistry; isotope geochemistry; chemical weathering; carbon cycle

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The imbalance between water requirements and unevenly distributed water resources has become one of the most vital limiting factors for regional and even global sustainable development. In the context of the globalization of environmental change, how to identify and characterize water quality and contamination (including pollution levels, sources of pollutants, and influencing factors) is most important to realize high-efficiency water environmental management and sustainable use of water resources. Watersheds are the most important water resource unit in surface systems, supporting social and economic development in most parts of the world. However, the water eco-environments at different watershed scales pose many challenges for protection and management over the world. Accurate assessment of the transformation and migration of nutrients and other pollutants at different watershed scales is a critical challenge due to the different strengths of influence of anthropogenic and natural processes. By studying the biogeochemical cycle of substances and sources of pollutants in the water environment (e.g., rivers, reservoirs, and subterranean rivers) at watershed scale, combined with hydrology methods, the mechanism of ecological environment changes at watershed scale can be explored under the influence of both anthropogenic and natural processes. Generally, human activities, such as agricultural production, urban sewage, industrial discharge, and mining in the watershed are the main sources of pollutants in the water environment, and natural processes (mainly rock weathering) are also important factors controlling the water chemistry of watersheds. Meanwhile, in addition to natural hydrological processes, reservoir and dam construction (water conservancy projects) along with land use change are also important factors affecting material migration and transformation in the watershed water environment. With this Special Issue, we aim to promote the publication of papers dealing with watershed water environments and hydrology under the influence of anthropogenic and natural processes, mainly focusing on the quality and contamination of water bodies and their influencing factors. This Special Issue plans to share innovative/new ideas on the watershed water environment from different perspectives across the field. This topic could be addressed from several different perspectives:

1) The evolution of watershed water ecological and environmental quality impacted by both anthropogenic and natural processes.

2) The biogeochemical cycling of elements or pollutants driven by human activities and hydrological factors at watershed scale.

3) The identification and quantification of sources of pollutants in watershed water environments.

4) The assessment of ecological risk and human health risk of pollutants in the water environment at different watershed scales.

Prof. Dr. Guilin Han
Prof. Dr. Zhifang Xu
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • watershed water environment
  • river pollution
  • element cycle
  • source identification
  • agriculture
  • urban sewage
  • industrial discharge
  • weathering
  • water–air interface

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

Article
Modeling Management and Climate Change Impacts on Water Pollution by Heavy Metals in the Nizhnekamskoe Reservoir Watershed
Water 2021, 13(22), 3214; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13223214 - 12 Nov 2021
Viewed by 374
Abstract
The semi-distributed physically based ECOMAG-HM model was applied to simulate the cycling of the heavy metals (HM) Cu, Zn, and Mn, and to identify spatial and temporal patterns of heavy metal pollution in water bodies of a large river catchment of the Nizhnekamskoe [...] Read more.
The semi-distributed physically based ECOMAG-HM model was applied to simulate the cycling of the heavy metals (HM) Cu, Zn, and Mn, and to identify spatial and temporal patterns of heavy metal pollution in water bodies of a large river catchment of the Nizhnekamskoe reservoir (NKR) in Russia. The main river of the catchment is the Belaya River, one of the most polluted rivers in the Southern Urals. The model was tested against long-term data on hydrological and hydrochemical monitoring of water bodies. It is shown that the pollution of rivers is formed mainly due to diffuse wash-off of metals into rivers from the soil-ground layer. Numerical experiments to assess the impact of water economic activities on river pollution were carried out by modeling scenarios of changes in the amount of metal discharged with wastewater, a disaster with a salvo discharge of pollutants, and the exclusion of anthropogenic impact on the catchment to assess self-purification of the basin. Modeling of chemical runoff in accordance with the delta-change climatic scenario showed that significant changes in water quality characteristics should not be expected in the near future up to 2050. Full article
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Article
Effects of Seasonal Thermal Stratification on Nitrogen Transformation and Diffusion at the Sediment-Water Interface in a Deep Canyon Artificial Reservoir of Wujiang River Basin
Water 2021, 13(22), 3194; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13223194 - 11 Nov 2021
Viewed by 368
Abstract
Watershed-scale nitrogen pollution in aquatic systems has become a worldwide concern due to its continuous impact on water quality deterioration, while the knowledge of key influencing factors dominating nitrogen transportation and transformation at the sediment-water interface (SWI) remains limited, especially in impounded rivers [...] Read more.
Watershed-scale nitrogen pollution in aquatic systems has become a worldwide concern due to its continuous impact on water quality deterioration, while the knowledge of key influencing factors dominating nitrogen transportation and transformation at the sediment-water interface (SWI) remains limited, especially in impounded rivers with an artificial reservoir. Hence, for a better understanding of the effects of thermal stratification on nitrogen transformation, we investigated the nitrogen species and isotopes in the sediment of a deep reservoir in Southwest China. Our results confirmed a significant difference in nitrogen species and isotopic composition in sediment between those in the thermal stratification period and non-thermal stratification period and indicated that the sediment biogeochemical process and transportation were clearly linked to the variations in water temperature and dissolved oxygen dominated by the process of thermal stratification. Significant seasonal differences in NH4+-N and NO3-N in pore water of the upper layer (0–19 cm) revealed that nitrification exhausted NH4+ in the non-stratified period (NSP), and a potential low mineralization rate appeared when compared with those in the stratified period (SP). Seasonal differences in nitrogen species and isotope fractionation of δ15N-PON (about 2.3‰ in SP) in the upper layer sediment indicated a higher anaerobic mineralization rate of organic matter in SP than that in NSP. The diffusion fluxes of NH4+-N at SWI were 9.48 and 15.66 mg·m−2·d−1 in NSP and SP, respectively, and annual NH4+-N diffusion accounted for 21.8% of total storage in the reservoir. This study demonstrated that the nitrogen cycling processes, especially nitrification, denitrification, and mineralization, have been largely altered along with the changes in dissolved oxygen and that the diffusion of nitrogen species varied with the presence of the oxygen. The results contribute to the future study of watershed nitrogen budget evaluation and suggest that the endogenous nitrogen released from the sediment-water interface should be emphasized when aiming to fulfil water management policies in deep reservoirs. Full article
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Article
Natural and Anthropogenic Controls of Groundwater Quality in Sri Lanka: Implications for Chronic Kidney Disease of Unknown Etiology (CKDu)
Water 2021, 13(19), 2724; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13192724 - 01 Oct 2021
Viewed by 476
Abstract
Poor groundwater quality in household wells is hypothesized as being a potential contributor to chronic kidney disease of unknown etiology (CKDu) in Sri Lanka. However, the influencing factors of groundwater quality in Sri Lanka are rarely investigated at a national scale. Here, the [...] Read more.
Poor groundwater quality in household wells is hypothesized as being a potential contributor to chronic kidney disease of unknown etiology (CKDu) in Sri Lanka. However, the influencing factors of groundwater quality in Sri Lanka are rarely investigated at a national scale. Here, the spatial characteristics of groundwater geochemistry in Sri Lanka were described. The relationships of groundwater quality parameters with environmental factors, including lithology, land use, and climatic conditions, were further examined to identify the natural and anthropogenic controlling factors of groundwater quality in Sri Lanka. The results showed that groundwater geochemistry in Sri Lanka exhibited significant spatial heterogeneity. The high concentrations of NO3 were found in the districts that have a higher percentage of agricultural lands, especially in the regions in the coastal zone. Higher hardness and fluoride in groundwater were mainly observed in the dry zone. The concentrations of trace elements such as Cd, Pb, Cu, and Cr of all the samples were lower than the World Health Organization guideline values, while some the samples had higher As and Al concentrations above the guideline values. Principal component analysis identified four components that explained 73.2% of the total data variance, and the first component with high loadings of NO3, hardness, As, and Cr suggested the effects of agricultural activities, while other components were primarily attributed to natural sources and processes. Further analyses found that water hardness, fluoride and As concentration had positive correlations with precipitation and negative correlations with air temperature. The concentration of NO3 and water hardness were positively correlated with agricultural lands, while As concentration was positively correlated with unconsolidated sediments. The environmental factors can account for 58% of the spatial variation in the overall groundwater geochemistry indicated by the results of redundancy analysis. The groundwater quality data in this study cannot identify whether groundwater quality is related to the occurrence of CKDu. However, these findings identify the coupled controls of lithology, land use, and climate on groundwater quality in Sri Lanka. Future research should be effectively designed to clarify the synergistic effect of different chemical constituents on CKDu. Full article
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Article
Geochemistry of Dissolved Heavy Metals in Upper Reaches of the Three Gorges Reservoir of Yangtze River Watershed during the Flood Season
Water 2021, 13(15), 2078; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13152078 - 30 Jul 2021
Viewed by 600
Abstract
Dissolved heavy metals (HMs), derived from natural and anthropogenic sources, are an important part of aquatic environment research and gain more international concern due to their acute toxicity. In this study, the geochemistry of dissolved HMs was analyzed in the upper Three Gorges [...] Read more.
Dissolved heavy metals (HMs), derived from natural and anthropogenic sources, are an important part of aquatic environment research and gain more international concern due to their acute toxicity. In this study, the geochemistry of dissolved HMs was analyzed in the upper Three Gorges Reservoir (TGR) of the Yangtze River (YZR) watershed to explore their distribution, status, and sources and further evaluate the water quality and HM-related risks. In total, 57 water samples were collected from the main channel and tributaries of the upper TGR. The concentrations of eight HMs, namely V, Ni, Cu, Zn, As, Mo, Cd, and Pb, were measured by ICP-MS. The mean concentrations (in μg/L) of eight HMs decreased in the order: As (1.46), V (1.44), Ni (1.40), Mo (0.94), Cu (0.86), Zn (0.63), Pb (0.03), and Cd (0.01). The concentrations of most HMs were 1.4~8.1 times higher than that in the source area of the YZR, indicating a potential anthropogenic intervention in the upper TGR. Spatially, the concentrations of V, Cu, As, and Pb along the main channel gradually decreased, while the others were relatively stable (except for Cd). The different degrees of variations in HM concentrations were also found in tributaries. According to the correlation analysis and principal component (PC) analysis, three PCs were identified and explained 75.1% of the total variances. combined with the concentrations of each metal, PC1 with high loadings of V, Ni, As, and Mo was considered as the main contribution of human inputs, PC2 (Cu and Pb) was primarily attributed to the contribution of mixed sources of human emissions and natural processes, and Zn and Cd in PC3 were controlled by natural sources. Water quality assessment suggested the good water quality (meeting the requirements for drinking purposes) with WQI values of 14.1 ± 3.4 and 11.6 ± 3.6 in the main channel and tributaries, respectively. Exposure risk assessment denoted that the health effects of selected HMs on the human body were limited (hazard index, HI < 1), but the potential risks of V and As with HI > 0.1 were non-negligible, especially for children. These findings provide scientific support for the environmental management of the upper TGR region and the metal cycle in aquatic systems. Full article
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Article
Phosphorus Release from Sediments in a Raw Water Reservoir with Reduced Allochthonous Input
Water 2021, 13(14), 1983; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13141983 - 19 Jul 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 786
Abstract
Following successful abatement of external nutrient sources, one must shift the focus to the role of phosphorus (P) release from sediment. This enables us to better assess the causes for sustained eutrophication in freshwater ecosystem and how to deal with this challenge. In [...] Read more.
Following successful abatement of external nutrient sources, one must shift the focus to the role of phosphorus (P) release from sediment. This enables us to better assess the causes for sustained eutrophication in freshwater ecosystem and how to deal with this challenge. In this study, five sediment cores from the shallow YuQiao Reservoir in northern China were investigated. The reservoir serves as the main raw water source for tap water services of Tianjin megacity, with a population of 15.6 million. Sediment characteristics and P fractions were determined in order to assess the role of the sediments as the P source to the water body. The total P content (TP) in sediments was similar to what was found in catchment soils, although the P sorption capacity of sediments was 7–10 times greater than for the catchment soils. Isotherm adsorption experiments documented that when P concentration in overlying water drops below 0.032–0.070 mg L−1, depending on the site, the sediment contributes with a positive flux of P to the overlying water. Adsorbed P at different depths in the sediments is found to be released with a similarly rapid release rate during the first 20 h, though chronic release was observed mainly from the top 30 cm of the sediment core. Dredging the top 30 cm layer of the sediments will decrease the level of soluble reactive phosphate in the water being sustained by the sediment flux of P. Full article
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Article
Evidence of Anthropogenic Gadolinium in Triangle Area Waters, North Carolina, USA
Water 2021, 13(14), 1895; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13141895 - 08 Jul 2021
Viewed by 619
Abstract
Gadolinium (Gd), a member of the rare earth elements (REE), is becoming an increasingly observed microcontaminant in waters of developed regions. Anthropogenic Gd anomalies were first noted in 1996 and were determined to be sourced from Gd-based contrast agents used in magnetic resonance [...] Read more.
Gadolinium (Gd), a member of the rare earth elements (REE), is becoming an increasingly observed microcontaminant in waters of developed regions. Anthropogenic Gd anomalies were first noted in 1996 and were determined to be sourced from Gd-based contrast agents used in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This study investigates Gd anomalies in North Carolina’s Triangle Area, focusing on surrounding wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). Samples were obtained from upstream and downstream of selected WWTPs as well as a freshwater reservoir that supplies part of the region’s drinking water. The PAAS-normalized samples indicate Gd anomalies in the influent, effluent, and downstream samples. We quantify the anthropogenic Gd in wastewater samples to constitute between 98.1% to 99.8%. Sample comparisons show an average increase of 45.3% estimated anthropogenic Gd between samples upstream and downstream of WWTPs. This research contributes to the existing database demonstrating the presence of anthropogenic Gd in developed regions. Although current Gd concentrations are not near toxic levels, they should be continuously monitored as a micropollutant and serve as a wastewater tracer. Full article
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Article
Sulfur Isotope and Stoichiometry–Based Source Identification of Major Ions and Risk Assessment in Chishui River Basin, Southwest China
Water 2021, 13(9), 1231; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13091231 - 28 Apr 2021
Viewed by 588
Abstract
Hydrochemistry and sulfur isotope (δ34S–SO42−) of Chishui River watershed in Southwest China were measured to identify the sources of riverine solutes, the potential impact of human activities, water quality, and health risk. The main findings indicated that the [...] Read more.
Hydrochemistry and sulfur isotope (δ34S–SO42−) of Chishui River watershed in Southwest China were measured to identify the sources of riverine solutes, the potential impact of human activities, water quality, and health risk. The main findings indicated that the HCO3 (2.22 mmol/L) and Ca2+ (1.54 mmol/L) were the major ions, with the cation order of Ca2+ (71 ± 6%) > Mg2+ (21 ± 6%) > Na+ + K+ (8 ± 3%) and the anion sequence of HCO3 (55 ± 9%) > SO42− (41 ± 9%) > Cl (4 ± 3%). The riverine δ34S–SO42− values fluctuated from −7.79‰ to +22.13‰ (average +4.68‰). Overall, the water samples from Chishui River presented a hydrochemical type of Calcium–Bicarbonate. The stoichiometry and PCA analysis extracted three PCs that explained 79.67% of the total variances. PC 1 with significantly positive loadings of K+, Mg2+, F, HCO3 and relatively strong loading of Ca2+ revealed the natural sources of rock weathering inputs (mainly carbonate). PC 2 (Na+ and Cl) was primarily explained as atmospheric contribution, while the human inputs were assuaged by landscape setting and river water mixing processes. The strongest loadings of SO42− and NO3 were found in PC 3, which could be defined as the anthropogenic inputs. The H2SO4–involved weathering processes significantly impacted (facilitated weathering) the concentrations of riverine total ions. Sulfur isotope compositions further indicated that riverine SO42− were mainly controlled by anthropogenic inputs SO42− compared to the sulfide oxidation derived SO42−, and the atmospheric contribution was very limited. The results of risk and water quality assessment demonstrated that Chishui River water was desirable for irrigation and drinking purposes due to low hazard quotient values (<1, ignorable risk), but long–term monitoring is still worthy under the circumstances of global environmental change. Full article
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