Application of a three-dimensional water quality model as a decision support tool for the management of land-use changes in the catchment of an oligotrophic lake
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While expansion of agricultural land area and intensification of agricultural practices through irrigation and fertilizer use can bring many benefits to communities, intensifying land use also causes more contaminants, such as nutrients and pesticides, to enter rivers, lakes, and groundwater. For lakes such as Benmore in the Waitaki catchment, South Island, New Zealand, an area which is currently undergoing agricultural intensification, this could potentially lead to marked degradation of water clarity as well as effects on ecological, recreational, commercial, and tourism values. We undertook a modeling study to demonstrate science-based options for consideration of agricultural intensification in the catchment of Lake Benmore. Based on model simulations of a range of potential future nutrient loadings, it is clear that different areas within Lake Benmore may respond differently to increased nutrient loadings. A western arm (Ahuriri) could be most severely affected by land-use changes and associated increases in nutrient loadings. Lake-wide annual averages of an eutrophication indicator, the trophic level index (TLI) were derived from simulated chlorophyll a, total nitrogen, and total phosphorus concentrations. Results suggest that the lake will shift from oligotrophic (TLI = 2–3) to eutrophic (TLI = 4–5) as external loadings are increased eightfold over current baseline loads, corresponding to the potential land-use intensification in the catchment. This study provides a basis for use of model results in a decision-making process by outlining the environmental consequences of a series of land-use management options, and quantifying nutrient load limits needed to achieve defined trophic state objectives.
Environmental Science and Management not elsewhere classified