Pollution emissions into the drainage basin have direct impact on surface water quality. These emissions result from human activities that turn into pollution loads when they reach the water bodies, as point or diffuse sources. Their pollution potential depends on the characteristics and quantity of the transported materials. The estimation of pollution loads can assist decision-making in basin management. Knowledge about the potential pollution sources allows for a prioritization of pollution control policies to achieve the desired water quality. Consequently, it helps avoiding problems such as eutrophication of water bodies. The focus of the research described in this study is related to phosphorus emissions into river basins. The study area is the upper Iguazu basin that lies in the northeast region of the State of Paraná, Brazil, covering about 2,965 km² and around 4 million inhabitants live concentrated on just 16% of its area.
The MoRE (Modeling of Regionalized Emissions) model was used to estimate phosphorus emissions. MoRE is a model that uses empirical approaches to model processes in analytical units, capable of using spatially distributed parameters, covering both, emissions from point sources as well as non-point sources. ... mehrIn order to model the processes, the basin was divided into 152 analytical units with an average size of 20 km². Available data was organized in a GIS environment. Using e.g. layers of precipitation, the Digital Terrain Model from a 1:10000 scale map as well as soils and land cover, which were derived from remote sensing imagery. Further data is used, such as point pollution discharges and statistical socio-economic data. The model shows that one of the main pollution sources in the upper Iguazu basin is the domestic sewage that enters the river as point source (effluents of treatment stations) and/or as diffuse pollution, caused by failures of sanitary sewer systems or clandestine sewer discharges, accounting for about 56% of the emissions. Second significant shares of emissions come from direct runoff or groundwater, being responsible for 32% of the total emissions. Finally, agricultural erosion and industry pathways represent 12% of emissions. This study shows that MoRE is capable of producing valid emission calculation on a relatively reduced input data basis.