Balancing water demand needs with protection of river water quality by minimising stream residence time: an example from the Thames, UK

Hutchins, M.G.; Bowes, M.J.. 2018 Balancing water demand needs with protection of river water quality by minimising stream residence time: an example from the Thames, UK. Water Resources Management, 32 (7). 2561-2568.

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Freshwater resources in the River Thames basin in southern UK are faced with combined pressures of future population growth and climate change. River basin managers are seeking increasingly innovative methods to meet water demand whilst at the same time maintaining ecological status. Using a river network hydrochemical model modified to account for possible future climate and population, the paper assesses the impact on downstream water quality of changing the location of a major point of abstraction serving the city of Oxford. The rationale behind the hypothetical change, although entailing an increase in energy costs and capital expenditure, was that flows would be maintained along a sensitive stretch of river. Model results at a location a further 23 km downstream suggested that better water quality would arise from this change. The predicted improvements included a decrease in the annual frequency of low DO concentrations (<6 mg L-1) from 8-9 days to 2-3 days and a decrease in 90th percentile (summer) temperatures of 0.6 ⁰C. It is believed these improvements would primarily be attributable to shortening of river residence time which curtails accelerated phytoplankton growth. The overall conclusion, of relevance both for the Thames basin and elsewhere, is that water quality in a river network can be surprisingly sensitive to the location of abstractions. Changing the location of abstractions should be considered as part of a suite of measures available to river basin managers when making plans to meet future water demand.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Pollution (Science Area 2017-)
Water Resources (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 0920-4741
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: View-only full text copy available via Related URL link.
Additional Keywords: water quality modelling, water resources, abstraction, River Thames, eutrophication
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Related URLs:
Date made live: 15 Mar 2018 16:50 +0 (UTC)

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