Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 31, pp 31190–31204 | Cite as

Water quality modeling of a prairie river-lake system

  • Nasim Hosseini
  • Eric AkomeahEmail author
  • John-Mark Davis
  • Helen Baulch
  • Karl-Erich Lindenschmidt
Research Article


Eutrophication of an under-ice river-lake system in Canada has been modeled using the Water Quality Analysis Simulation Program (WASP7). The model was used to assess the potential effect on water quality of increasing inter-basin transfer of water from an upstream reservoir into the Qu’Appelle River system. Although water is currently transferred, the need for increased transfer is a possibility under future water management scenarios to meet water demands in the region. Output from the model indicated that flow augmentation could decrease total ammonia and orthophosphate concentrations especially at Buffalo Pound Lake throughout the year. This is because the water being transferred has lower concentrations of these nutrients than the Qu’Appelle River system, although there is complex interplay between the more dilute chemistry, and the potential to increase loads by increasing flows. A global sensitivity analysis indicated that the model output for the lake component was more sensitive to input parameters than was the model output of the river component. Sensitive parameters included dissolved organic nitrogen mineralization rate, phytoplankton nitrogen to carbon ratio, phosphorus-to-carbon ratio, maximum phytoplankton growth rate, and phytoplankton death rate. Parameter sensitivities on output variables for the lake component were similar for both summer (open water) and winter (ice-covered), whereas those for the river component were different. The complex interplay of water quality, ice behaviors, and hydrodynamics of the chained river-lake system was all coupled in WASP7. Mean absolute error varied from 0.03–0.08 NH4-N/L for ammonium to 0.5 to1.7 mg/L for oxygen, and 0.04–0.13 NO3-N/L for nitrate.


Global sensitivity analysis Cold region River-lake systems Under-ice processes Water quality modeling 



We thank those that shared data with us including the Saskatchewan Environment, the Saskatchewan Water Security Agency, and the Buffalo Pound Water Treatment Plant.

Funding information

We are also grateful for funding provided by the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Water Security at the University of Saskatchewan and through Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Environmental Damages Fund under the project, a water quality modeling system of the Qu’Appelle River catchment for long-term water management policy development.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Global Institute for Water SecurityUniversity of SaskatchewanSaskatoonCanada
  2. 2.Water Security AgencySaskatoonCanada

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