Articles | Volume 32
20 Dec 2012
 | 20 Dec 2012

A modeling framework to assess water and nitrate balances in the Western Bug river basin, Ukraine

F. Tavares Wahren, B. Helm, F. Schumacher, T. Pluntke, K.-H. Feger, and K. Schwärzel

Abstract. The objective of this study was to assess the utility of the eco-hydrological SWAT model (Soil and Water Assessment Tool, Arnold et al., 1998) for representing water balance and nitrate fluxes given limited input and calibration data. The investigated catchment is located in Western Ukraine with an area of approximately 2616 km2. Land use is currently dominated by agriculture with significant areas of pasture, and has undergone a high degree of changes in land-use and agricultural practice since the end of the Soviet Union. Model application produced a fitted water balance (calibration: R2 = 0.52, NS = 0.46; validation: R2 = 0.47, NS = 0.51) and plausible ranges and dynamics of nitrate in stream loadings. Groundwater parameters were found to be highly sensitive. The results indicate that SWAT is an appropriate tool for water resource investigations in the Western Bug catchment, and can provide a useful tool for further eco-hydrologic research in the region (i.e. diffuse pollution impacts).