Impact of suspended sediment and nutrient loading from land uses against water quality in the Hii River basin, Japan

H. Somura, I. Takeda, J. G. Arnold, Y. Mori, J. Jeong, N. Kannan, D. Hoffman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Citations (Scopus)


Lake Shinji lies in eastern Shimane Prefecture, and is typical of brackish lakes in Japan. Water quality of the lake does not meet the expected environmental standards for total nitrogen (TN) and total phosphorus (TP), even though the national and prefectural governments have tried to improve water quality by developing maintenance scenarios for sewage, plant effluent, agricultural activity, and forestry. Consequently, detailed data of nutrient loading to the lake from river inflows is crucial to support strategies for improving the lake water environment. The Hii River contributes approximately 80% of the discharge flowing into the lake. In this study, we examine the Hii River catchment with a focus on land uses such as paddy fields, upland fields, residential areas, and forestry. Average annual discharges of suspended sediment (SS), TN, and TP loads were determined at Otsu, near the outlet of the basin into Lake Shinji. We also determined average yield per unit area of SS, TN, and TP loads from each land use. Yields per unit area from upland areas were the greatest, whereas yields from forests were the lowest. Forests were the largest contributor of SS, TN, and TP in the basin, because of its dominant land area. Upland fields had the second largest impact on these loads in the basin, because fertilizer applied to the fields is a major source of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P). Large differences in yields per unit area between fine and rainy day conditions were also observed, especially for SS and TP loads. Furthermore, we determined that a major pathway of N to the river was through groundwater, regardless of land use, whereas P was transported to the river with sediments, especially in paddy and upland fields. Based on these analyses, it will be difficult to reduce the SS load discharge in the basin in the future, because forestry is the major source. In contrast, N and P load reductions are straightforward, because the primary source is agricultural, and appropriate management of fertilizer application will be a key factor in reducing loads.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-35
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Publication statusPublished - Jul 11 2012


  • Annual load discharge
  • Lake water environment
  • Modeling approach
  • Monthly load variations
  • SWAT
  • Watershed management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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