Across China, nutrient losses associated with agricultural production and domestic sewage have triggered eutrophication, and local managers are challenged to comply with drinking water quality requirements. Evidently, the improvement of water quality should be targeted holistically and encompass both point sources and surface activities within the watershed of a reservoir. We expanded the ordinary Soil Water Assessment Tool – (SWAT) with a widely used empirical equation to estimate total phosphorus (TP) concentrations in lakes and reservoirs. Subsequently, we examined the effects of changes in land and livestock management and sewage treatment on nutrient export and derived consequences for water quality in the Chinese subtropical Kaiping (Dashahe) drinking water reservoir (supplying 0.4 million people). The critical load of TP was estimated to 13.5 tonnes yr–1 in order to comply with the minimum drinking water requirements, which corresponds to 87% of the simulated load to the reservoir at present. Both the implementation of buffer zones along rivers and removal of sewage discharges showed marked improvement in reservoir water quality. Future research should focus on both hydrological model performance and nutrient transport pathways, which are challenged by a complex artificially altered water infrastructure in the form of ditches, channels and ponds in monsoon-influenced subtropical watersheds.
Marine and Freshwater Research, 2013, Vol 64, Issue 5, p. 475-492
agriculture; reservoir water quality; sewage; subtropical watershed