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Evaluating the relationship between water quality and water treatment costs with land use change at multiple spatial scales: a case study of watersheds in southern Bahia, Brazil

posted on 27.07.2022, 08:17 authored by Daniel Von Rondon Martins, Joedison Rocha, Tassio Moreira Silva, Sofia Campiolo

ABSTRACT The current global loss of biodiversity has threatened the provision of drinking water for public supply, mainly due to the loss of native forests. Thus, understanding the impacts of vegetation cover reductions in altered landscapes by human activities is an important action to ensure water security. This study evaluated the relationship between water quality and treatment costs with land use intensifications of six water catchment points for public supply in southern Bahia, Brazil. Six spatial scales were considered, the catchment point and its surroundings (local), four riparian zone buffers (30, 50, 100, and 200 m), and the watershed. A selection of models was conducted to determine the scale at which landscape intensification best explains treatment costs and water quality. By using a principal component analysis in each spatial scale, a gradient of forest replacement by other non-forest uses (PC1) was generated and used as an explanatory variable. As a result, land use intensification at the 100 m riparian zone was the best model for both response variables. Therefore, our study suggests that actions for conservation and restoration of water resources in our study area should consider a riparian zone of at least 100 m on each side of the water bodies to reduce treatment costs in a medium-to-short term. Also, recovering forest cover is a crucial action to manage riparian zones and watersheds.