Data‐driven system dynamics model for simulating water quantity and quality in peri‐urban streams

Gregory G. Lemaire*, Shane A. Carnohan, Stanislav Grand, Victor Mazel, Poul L. Bjerg, Ursula S. McKnight

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Holistic water quality models to support decision‐making in lowland catchments with competing stakeholder perspectives are still limited. To address this gap, an integrated system dynamics model for water quantity and quality (including stream temperature, dissolved oxygen, and macronutrients) was developed. Adaptable plug‐n‐play modules handle the complexity (sources, pathways) related to both urban and agricultural/natural land‐use features. The model was applied in a data‐rich catchment to uncover key insights into the dynamics governing water quality in a peri‐urban stream. Performance indicators demonstrate the model successfully captured key water quantity/quality variations and interactions (with, e.g., Nash‐Sutcliff Efficiency ranging from very good to satisfactory). Model simulation and sensitivity results could then highlight the influence of stream temperature variations and enhanced heterotrophic respiration in summer, causing low dissolved oxygen levels and potentially affecting ecological quality. Probabilistic uncertainty results combined with a rich dataset show high potential for ammonium uptake in the macrophyte‐domi-nated reach. The results further suggest phosphorus remobilization from streambed sediment could become an important diffuse nutrient source should other sources (e.g., urban effluents) be mitigated. These findings are especially important for the design of green transition solutions, where single‐objective management strategies may negatively impact aquatic ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3002
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Green transition
  • Lowland catchments
  • Modeling
  • Peri‐urban areas
  • System dynamics
  • Uncertainty
  • Water quality model


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