Nutrient and microbial water quality of the upper Ganga river, India: identification of pollution sources

Bowes, Michael J. ORCID:; Read, Daniel S. ORCID:; Joshi, Himanshu; Sinha, Rajiv; Ansari, Aqib; Hazra, Moushumi; Simon, Monica; Vishwakarma, Rajesh; Armstrong, Linda K.; Nicholls, David J.E.; Wickham, Heather D.; Ward, Jade; Carvalho, Laurence R.; Rees, H. Gwyn ORCID: 2020 Nutrient and microbial water quality of the upper Ganga river, India: identification of pollution sources. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 192 (8), 533.

Before downloading, please read NORA policies.
EMAS Submission_post print.pdf - Accepted Version

Download (814kB) | Preview


The Ganga River is facing mounting environmental pressures due to rapidly increasing human population, urbanisation, industrialisation and agricultural intensification, resulting in worsening water quality, ecological status and impacts on human health. A combined inorganic chemical, algal and bacterial survey (using flow cytometry and 16S rRNA gene sequencing) along the upper and middle Ganga (from the Himalayan foothills to Kanpur) was conducted under pre-monsoon conditions. The upper Ganga had total phosphorus (TP) and total dissolved nitrogen concentrations of less than 100 μg l−1 and 1.0 mg l−1, but water quality declined at Kannauj (TP = 420 μg l−1) due to major nutrient pollution inputs from human-impacted tributaries (principally the Ramganga and Kali Rivers). The phosphorus and nitrogen loads in these two tributaries and the Yamuna were dominated by soluble reactive phosphorus and ammonium, with high bacterial loads and large numbers of taxa indicative of pathogen and faecal organisms, strongly suggesting sewage pollution sources. The high nutrient concentrations, low flows, warm water and high solar radiation resulted in major algal blooms in the Kali and Ramganga, which greatly impacted the Ganga. Microbial communities were dominated by members of the Phylum Proteobacteria, Bacteriodetes and Cyanobacteria, with communities showing a clear upstream to downstream transition in community composition. To improve the water quality of the middle Ganga, and decrease ecological and human health risks, future mitigation must reduce urban wastewater inputs in the urbanised tributaries of the Ramganga, Kali and Yamuna Rivers.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Soils and Land Use (Science Area 2017-)
Water Resources (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 0167-6369
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Publisher link (see Related URLs) provides a read-only full-text copy of the published paper.
Additional Keywords: River Ganges, nutrients, sewage, eutrophication, 16S rRNA sequencing, flow cytometry
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Related URLs:
Date made live: 05 Aug 2020 13:40 +0 (UTC)

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item

Document Downloads

Downloads for past 30 days

Downloads per month over past year

More statistics for this item...