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Impacts of land-use changes on watershed discharge and water quality in a large intensive agricultural area in Thailand

Chotpantarat, Srilert, Boonkaewwan, Satika
Hydrological sciences journal 2018 v.63 no.9 pp. 1386-1407
Soil and Water Assessment Tool model, agricultural land, basins, land use change, multiple land use, nitrate nitrogen, phosphates, pollution, rivers, runoff, sediment yield, sediments, stream flow, urban areas, water quality, watersheds, Thailand
The objectives of this research were to evaluate the effect of land-use change on streamflow, sediment and water quality data along the Lower Yom River, Thailand, covering an intensively agricultural area of 14 613.6 km², and to assess the relative impact of point and non-point sources of pollution from multiple-land-use watersheds. Long-term calibration and validation of the SWAT (Soil and Water Assessment Tool) model was performed on data for 2000–2013. Land-use change led to a 13–49% increase in runoff in the basin and resulted in 37–427% increased sediment yield. The amount of NO₃-N load doubled in the upper and middle parts of the study area, while the increase in PO₄³– ranged from 37 to 377%, reflecting the increase in agricultural lands and urban areas. It is concluded that the changed land use is closely associated with the quantity of runoff, sediment yield and the NO₃-N and PO₄³– concentrations.