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Impacts of Forest to Urban Land Conversion and ENSO Phase on Water Quality of a Public Water Supply Reservoir

Emile Elias, Hugo Rodriguez, Puneet Srivastava, Mark Dougherty, Darren James, Ryann Smith
Forests 2016 v.7 no.2 pp. -
El Nino, La Nina, carbon, chlorophyll, deforestation, drinking water, fluid mechanics, forests, land use change, models, nutrients, public water supply, stream flow, urbanization, water quality, water reservoirs, water treatment, watersheds
We used coupled watershed and reservoir models to evaluate the impacts of deforestation and l Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phase on drinking water quality. Source water total organic carbon (TOC) is especially important due to the potential for production of carcinogenic disinfection byproducts (DBPs). The Environmental Fluid Dynamics Code (EFDC) reservoir model is used to evaluate the difference between daily pre- and post- urbanization nutrients and TOC concentration. Post-disturbance (future) reservoir total nitrogen (TN), total phosphorus (TP), TOC and chlorophyll-a concentrations were found to be higher than pre-urbanization (base) concentrations (p < 0.05). Predicted future median TOC concentration was 1.1 mg·L−1 (41% higher than base TOC concentration) at the source water intake. Simulations show that prior to urbanization, additional water treatment was necessary on 47% of the days between May and October. However, following simulated urbanization, additional drinking water treatment might be continuously necessary between May and October. One of six ENSO indices is weakly negatively correlated with the measured reservoir TOC indicating there may be higher TOC concentrations in times of lower streamflow (La Niña). There is a positive significant correlation between simulated TN and TP concentrations with ENSO suggesting higher concentrations during El Niño.