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Identifying non-point source priority management areas in watersheds with multiple functional zones

Shen, Zhenyao, Zhong, Yucen, Huang, Qin, Chen, Lei
Water research 2015 v.68 pp. 563-571
Soil and Water Assessment Tool model, case studies, cost effectiveness, pollution, rivers, statistical analysis, surface water, water quality, watershed management, watersheds, zoning, China
The concept of water functional zones promotes the comprehensive supervision and scientific oversight of non-point source (NPS) pollution at the watershed scale. Therefore, understanding the spatial distributions and temporal trends in watershed priority management areas (PMAs) is important in the study and efficient management of NPS pollution. However, no comprehensive studies of PMAs have been conducted to protect water quality effectively in watersheds with multiple water functional zones. In this study, a new framework is presented that quantifies the perturbations of multiple spatial assessment units to the quality of nearby water bodies in various water functional zones. This innovative approach, which combines the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) and statistical analysis, was applied to characterize multiple-level PMAs with a case study of the Daning River watershed in China. Based on the results, the advantage of this new framework is better suited to downstream areas, particularly in dry periods and severely polluted watersheds. This paper reinforces the view that the concept of zoning should be taken seriously in the framework of PMAs targeting. From the aspect of watershed management, these new PMAs can offer an optimal strategy for locating comprehensive and cost-effective management practices at the watershed scale, particularly in large watersheds or long river systems.