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Water quality across the River Ganga basin in India: Trends, dominant geochemical processes and impacts

Richards, Laura A.; Fox, Bethany; Reynolds, Darren; Thorn, Robin; Clayton, Gillian; Perrin, Eva; Dutta, Tapan K; Bowes, Michael J; Read, Daniel S; Nicholls, David J.E.; Armstrong, Linda K; Hazra, Moushumi; Joshi, Himanshu; Richards, Laura A; Polya, David A; Ghosh, Ashok; Kumar, Arun; Kumari, Rupa; Gaurav, Aman; Kumar, Siddhu; Kumar, Sumant; Chakravorty, Biswajit; Gooddy, Daren; Krause, Stefan; Khamis, Kieran; Nel, Holly; Schneidewind, Uwe; Howard, Ben; Mewes, Danielle; Hannah, David; Magnone, Daniel


Laura A. Richards

Bethany Fox
Occasional Associate Lecturer - HAS - DAS

Dr Robin Thorn
Director of Research and Enterprise

Eva Perrin

Tapan K Dutta

Michael J Bowes

Daniel S Read

David J.E. Nicholls

Linda K Armstrong

Moushumi Hazra

Himanshu Joshi

Laura A Richards

David A Polya

Ashok Ghosh

Arun Kumar

Rupa Kumari

Aman Gaurav

Siddhu Kumar

Sumant Kumar

Biswajit Chakravorty

Daren Gooddy

Stefan Krause

Kieran Khamis

Holly Nel

Uwe Schneidewind

Ben Howard

Danielle Mewes

David Hannah

Daniel Magnone


In a basin-wide survey of the River Ganga and key tributaries, from the Himalayan source to the Bay of Bengal in India, we aim to improve the conceptual understanding of downstream water quality trends along > 2000 km. Here we explore the spatial distribution of a suite of inorganic and organic chemicals, nutrients and wastewater indicators to determine the dominant geochemical process controls across the basin. Sampling was undertaken at 81 sites in the post-monsoon period of 2019. We use chemical signatures to identify likely sources, characterise potential higher-pollution zones and to determine the relative importance of regional versus localized controls on the observed water quality parameters, including in relation to contaminant type. The influence from key tributaries is determined. We seek to unravel the relative importance of mechanisms such as dilution, evaporation, water-rock interactions and anthropogenic inputs in controlling contaminant distribution. We assess the representativeness of river bank sampling in comparison to cross-river transects in select locations. We compare our data to historical records across previous annual cycles, noting differences in extent of agreement according to contaminant type. This coordinated, catchment-wide survey presents a much broader and more comprehensive dataset than typically reported, hence leading to substantially improved process understanding of dominant controls on contaminant distribution across the catchment. This work may have implications on informing future monitoring efforts and in identifying future remediation priorities.

Presentation Conference Type Presentation / Talk
Conference Name EGU General Assembly 2021
Start Date Apr 19, 2021
End Date Apr 30, 2021
Deposit Date Feb 21, 2022
Public URL