Environ Monit Assess. 2023 Sep 5;195(10):1150. doi: 10.1007/s10661-023-11665-0.
Understanding the spatiotemporal dynamics of river water chemistry from its source to sinks is critical for constraining the origin, transformation, and “hotspots” of contaminants in a river basin. To provide new spatiotemporal constraints on river chemistry, dissolved trace element concentrations were measured at 17 targeted locations across the Ramganga River catchment. River water samples were collected across three seasons: pre-monsoon, monsoon, and post-monsoon between 2019 and 2021. To remove the dependency of trace element concentrations on discharge, we used molar ratios, as discharge data on Indian transboundary rivers are not publicly available. The dataset reveals significant spatiotemporal variability in dissolved trace element concentrations of the Ramganga River. Samples collected upstream of Moradabad, a major industrial city in western Uttar Pradesh, are characterized by ~ 1.2-2.5 times higher average concentrations of most of the trace elements except Sc, V, Cr, Rb, and Pb, likely due to intense water-rock interactions in the headwaters. Such kind of enrichment in trace metal concentrations was also observed at sites downstream of large cities and industrial centers. However, such enrichment was not enough to bring a major change in the River Ganga chemistry, as the signals got diluted downstream of the Ramganga-Ganga confluence. The average river water composition of the Ramganga River was comparable to worldwide river water composition, albeit a few sites were characterized by very high concentrations of dissolved trace elements. Finally, we provide an outlook that calls for an assessment of stable non-traditional isotopes that are ideally suited to track the origin and transformation of elements such as Li, Mg, Ca, Ti, V, Cr, Fe, Ni, Cu, Zn, Sr, Ag, Cd, Sn, Pt, and Hg in Indian rivers.