Flood impact on the transport, transition, and accumulation of phosphorus in a reservoir: A case study of the Biliuhe Reservoir of Northeast China

Huijuan Yu, Shiguo Xu, Wen Tian, Tongxin Zhu, Xiaoqiang Chen

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Stormflow runoff is the most important agent for phosphorus (P) input to reservoirs, as the particulates contained in runoff carry a substantial amount of P. The settling process of particulates affects the P content of water, and the distribution of particulates determines the P distribution in reservoir sediment. An understanding of flood impacts on the transport, transition, and accumulation of P in a reservoir is critical to reservoir management. In this study, water samples before and after flooding and sediment samples after flooding were collected from Biliuhe Reservoir in Northeast China. P content and load in the water and P-fractions and particle sizes of the sediments were analyzed. Results showed that total particulate P (TPP) increased sharply from 1.56 to 26.72 t after flooding, whereas dissolved organic P (DOP) decreased markedly from 3.24 to 1.17 t, which was largely caused by biological uptake directly or indirectly before flooding. Orthophosphate (PO43−) shared a similar trend with TPP, indicating that PO43− could be adsorbed onto settling particulates, helping to reduce the reactive P introduced by flooding. Reservoir sediment showed a fining trend downstream and the clay fraction exhibited an obvious correlation with P-fractions, demonstrating that the distribution of particulate matter determined P distribution in the sediment. This study also found that particulates from the largest tributary (Biliu River) were only minimally transported from its reservoir entrance to the dam because of a longer travel distance, while contrastingly, particulates from a smaller tributary (Bajia River) were maximally carried to the dam because of a shorter distance. Our fundings suggests that surface water in the reservoir should be released prior to flooding in order to mitigate control of P in the water, moreover, it is necessary to strengthen the effectiveness of pollutant control projects at the reservoir entrance of the Bajia River.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number115725
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 51879031 and 51327004). The authors appreciate the assistance of the team members of the Water and Environmental Research Institute in collecting samples.


  • Flood
  • Particulates
  • Phosphorus
  • Reservoir
  • Reservoir management

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