Title: An indicator to map diffuse chemical river pollution considering buffer capacity of riparian vegetation – a pan-European case study on pesticides
Citation: SCIENCE OF THE TOTAL ENVIRONMENT vol. 484 p. 64-73
Publication Year: 2014
JRC N°: JRC89370
ISSN: 0048-9697
URI: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969714003143
DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2014.02.124
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: Vegetated riparian areas alongside streams are thought to be effective at intercepting and controlling chemical loads from diffuse agricultural sources entering water bodies. Based on a recently compiled European map of riparian zones and a simplified soil chemical balance model, we propose a new indicator at a continental scale. QuBES (Qualitative indicator of Buffered Emissions to Streams) allows a qualitative assessment of European rivers exposed to pesticide input. The indicator consists of normalised pesticide loads to streams computed through a simplified steady-state fate model that distinguishes various chemical groups according to physico-chemical behaviour (solubility and persistence). The retention of pollutants in the buffer zone is modelled according to buffer width and sorption properties. While the indicator may be applied for the study of a generic emission pattern and for a chemical of generic properties, we demonstrate it to the case of agricultural emissions of pesticides. Due to missing geo-spatial data of pesticide emissions, a total pesticide emission scenario is assumed. The QuBES indicator is easy to calculate and requires far less input data and parameterisation than typical chemical-specific models. At the same time, it allows mapping of (i) riparian buffer permeability, (ii) chemical runoff from soils, and (iii) the buffered load of chemicals to the stream network. When the purpose of modelling is limited to identifying chemical pollution patterns and understanding the relative importance of emissions and natural attenuation in soils and stream buffer strips, the indicator may be suggested as a screening level, cost-effective alternative to spatially distributed models of higher complexity.
JRC Directorate:Sustainable Resources

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