Water quality is an essential focus of water resources management and strongly relates to human and ecological health. Groundwater and surface water resources are frequently contaminated by various types of pollution sources limiting their availability and value for human use and as a healthy ecological habitat. Water quality deteriorates by several kinds of pollutants including nutrients, (geogenic) metals, (emerging) organic micro pollutants, and pathogenic micro-organisms. Natural attenuation processes may under favourable conditions lower contaminant concentrations to safe levels and acceptable risks for receptors. Knowledge on quantitative cause-effect relationships linking human activity and global change to water quality is highly needed to enable successful water quality management. Besides its (un)intended use for pollution treatment, the (sub)surface is also increasingly used to temporarily store and abstract water and thermal energy with positive or negative impacts on water quality.
Understanding water quality and its spatial and temporal variations is inherently complex due to the multitude of interlinked physical, chemical, and (micro)biological processes. Advances in mechanistic and predictive understanding of spatiotemporal water quality changes are needed to achieve evidence-based water resources management based on cause-effect relationships. To this end, we believe that innovation in both data gathering (e.g., high resolution sampling, (autonomous) sensors, novel isotopic or microbiological (“omics”) data) and data interpretation (e.g., (environmental fate and reactive transport models) are required.
The Water Quality section aims to establish a platform for publications that advance our insight of the processes controlling the various water quality parameters specifically through innovations in modelling and monitoring (ideally in combination). Studied systems may range from the vadose zone, to groundwater and surface waters (rivers, lakes) and their interaction under natural or engineered conditions. In this section we aim to cross-fertilize research fields in monitoring and modelling approaches and bring together water quality researchers from different disciplines (e.g., hydrogeology, hydrology, limnology, (bio)geochemistry, microbial ecology) working on different water compartments and water quality components.
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