Publication Details

Category Text Publication
Reference Category Journals
DOI 10.1016/j.watres.2021.117309
Title (Primary) Characterizing the river water quality in China: Recent progress and on-going challenges
Author Huang, J.; Zhang, Y.; Bing, H.; Peng, J. ORCID logo ; Dong, F.; Gao, J.; Arhonditsis, G.B.
Source Titel Water Research
Year 2021
Department RS
Volume 201
Page From art. 117309
Language englisch
Topic T5 Future Landscapes
Keywords River water quality; Urbanization; Watershed management; Eutrophication; Bayesian modelling
Abstract Food production systems, urbanization, and other anthropogenic activities dramatically alter natural hydrological and nutrient cycles, and are primarily responsible for water quality impairments in China's rivers. This study compiled a 16-year (2003–2018) dataset of river water quality (161,337 records from 2424 sites), watershed/landscape features, and meteorological conditions to investigate the spatial water quality patterns and underlying drivers of river impairment (defined as water quality worse than Class V according to China's Environmental Quality Standards for Surface Waters, GB3838-2002) at a national scale. Our analysis provided evidence of a distinct water quality improvement with a gradual decrease in the frequency of prevalence of anoxic conditions, an alleviation of the severity of heavy metal pollution, whereas the cultural eutrophication has only been moderately mitigated between 2003 and 2018. We also identified significant spatial variation with relatively poorer water quality in eastern China, where 17.2% of the sampling sites registered poor water quality conditions, compared with only 4.6% in western China. Total phosphorus (TP) and ammonia-nitrogen (NH3-N) are collectively responsible for >85% of the identified incidences of impaired conditions. Bayesian modelling was used to delineate the most significant covariates of TP/NH3-N riverine levels in six large river basins (Liao, Hai, Yellow, Yangtze, Huai, and Pearl). Water quality impairments are predominantly shaped by anthropogenic drivers (82.5% for TP, 79.5% for NH3-N), whereas natural factors appear to play a secondary role (20.5% for TP, 17.5% for NH3-N). Two indicator variables of urbanization (urban areal extent and nighttime light intensity) and farmland areal extent were the strongest predictors of riverine TP/NH3-N levels and collectively accounted for most of the ambient nutrient variability. We concluded that there is still a long way to go in order to eradicate eutrophication and realize acceptable ecological conditions. The design of the remedial measures must be tailored to the site-specific landscape characteristics, meteorological conditions, and should also consider the increasing importance of non-point source pollution and internal nutrient loading.
Persistent UFZ Identifier
Huang, J., Zhang, Y., Bing, H., Peng, J., Dong, F., Gao, J., Arhonditsis, G.B. (2021):
Characterizing the river water quality in China: Recent progress and on-going challenges
Water Res. 201 , art. 117309 10.1016/j.watres.2021.117309