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Frontiers of Environmental Science & Engineering >> 2013, Volume 7, Issue 6 doi: 10.1007/s11783-013-0568-2

Changes in major factors affecting the ecosystem health of the Weihe River in Shaanxi Province, China

Department of Environmental Engineering, College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Northwest University, Xi’an 710127, China

Available online: 2013-12-01

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Maintenance of the ecosystem health of a river is of great importance for local sustainable development. On the basis of both qualitative and quantitative analysis of the influence of natural variations and human activities on the ecosystem function of the Weihe River, the changes in major factors affecting its ecosystem health are determined, which include: 1) Deficiency of environment flow: since the 1960s, the incoming stream flow shows an obvious decreasing tendency. Even in the low flow period, 80% of the water in the stream is impounded by dams for agriculture irrigation in the Baoji district. As a result, the water flow maintained in the stream for environmental use is very limited. 2) Deterioration of water quality: the concentrations of typical pollutants like Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) and NH -N are higher than their maximum values of the Chinese environmental quality standard. Very few fish species can survive in the River. 3) Deformation of water channels: the continuous channel sedimentation has resulted in the decrease in stream gradient, shrinkage of riverbed and the decline in the capability for flood discharge. 4) Loss of riparian vegetation: most riparian land has been occupied by urban construction activities, which have caused the loss of riparian vegetation and biodiversity and further weakened flood control and water purification functions.

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