Land use impact on the water quality of large tropical river: Mun River Basin, Thailand
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Globally, rivers and streams are experiencing declining water quality. Anthropogenic activities largely contribute to surface water pollution. Understanding human-induced influence on river water quality remains a challenge owing to spatiotemporal variations. In this study, we assessed the influence of various land uses (LU) on 16 water quality parameters of the Mun River, a tributary of the Mekong River, at different scales. Water quality was statistically analyzed both spatially and temporally (1995–2010). Seasonal and annual effect of LU on water quality was evaluated at buffer zone scale and sub-basin scale (i.e., catchment scale) using multiple regression analysis. The result showed that urban LU extensively adds to the nutrient concentration [i.e., total phosphorus (TP), ammonia nitrogen (NH3-N)] followed by agriculture LU at the sub-basin scale. Site-specific variability of TP is explained by urban LU and biological oxygen demand (BOD) by agriculture LU at the 5-km buffer in Upper and Middle Mun whereas at Lower Mun, the 20-km buffer explains the variability of suspended solids (SS) and total suspended solids (TSS), suggesting a more localized effect on the parameters upstream. The high concentration of parameters was noted in the dry season whereas the opposite was true for fecal coliform bacteria (FCB), SS, and TP. The maximum parameter concentration of NH3-N, FCB, and total coliform bacteria exceeds the permissible surface water quality standards of the Pollution Control Department (PCD) of Thailand in all three sub-basins. The study suggests the need for multi-scale interventions and effective pollution control measures focusing on nutrient, pathogenic bacteria, and solids pollution to improve the river water quality of large river basin.
KeywordsRiver basin Water quality Land use Buffer scale Sub-basin scale
The authors are particularly grateful to the Royal Irrigation Department (RID), Thai Meteorological Department (TMD), and Land Development Department (LDD) for providing the data needed for this study.
This research study was financially supported by the Royal Thai Government (RTG, His Majesty the King's Scholarship).
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