Comparing the efficiency of hypoxia mitigation strategies in an urban, turbid tidal river via a coupled hydro-sedimentary–biogeochemical model
Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences
Abstract. Coastal-water hypoxia is increasing globally due to global warming and urbanization, and the need to define management solutions to improve the water quality of coastal ecosystems has become important. The lower tidal Garonne River (TGR; southwestern France), characterized by the seasonal presence of a turbidity maximum zone (TMZ) and urban water discharge, is subject to episodic hypoxia events during low river flow periods in the summer. Future climatic conditions (higher temperature
... (higher temperature and summer droughts) and increasing urbanization could enhance hypoxia risks near the city of Bordeaux in the coming decades. A 3-D model of dissolved oxygen (DO) that couples hydrodynamics, sediment transport and biogeochemical processes was used to assess the efficiency of different management solutions for oxygenation of the TGR during summer low-discharge periods. We ran different scenarios of reductions in urban sewage overflows, displacement of urban discharges downstream from Bordeaux and/or temporary river flow support during the summer period. The model shows that each option mitigates hypoxia, but with variable efficiency over time and space. Sewage overflow reduction improves DO levels only locally near the city of Bordeaux. Downstream relocation of wastewater discharges allows for better oxygenation levels in the lower TGR. The support of low river flow limits the upstream TMZ propagation and dilutes the TGR water with well-oxygenated river water. Scenarios combining wastewater network management and low-water replenishment indicate an improvement in water quality over the entire TGR. These modelling outcomes constitute important tools for local water authorities to develop the most appropriate strategies to limit hypoxia in the TGR.Highlights. A 3-D model shows different efficiencies of management actions to limit hypoxia. Downstream relocation of wastewater discharge totally mitigates hypoxia. Sewage overflow reduction improves DO levels but only locally. Water replenishment improves DO in the upper estuary.