Articles | Volume 16, issue 8
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 16, 2405–2415, 2012
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 16, 2405–2415, 2012

Research article 02 Aug 2012

Research article | 02 Aug 2012

Tracing the spatial propagation of river inlet water into an agricultural polder area using anthropogenic gadolinium

J. Rozemeijer1, C. Siderius2, M. Verheul1, and H. Pomarius3 J. Rozemeijer et al.
  • 1Deltares, Subsurface and Groundwater department, Utrecht, The Netherlands
  • 2Alterra, Wageningen University and Research Centre, Wageningen, The Netherlands
  • 3Water Board Rivierenland, Tiel, The Netherlands

Abstract. Diverting river water into agricultural areas or nature reserves is a frequently applied management strategy to prevent fresh water shortage. However, the river water might have negative consequences for chemical and ecological water quality in the receiving water bodies. This study aimed to obtain a spatial image of the diverted river water propagation into a hydrologically complex polder area, the polder Quarles van Ufford in The Netherlands. We used anthropogenic gadolinium (Gd-anomaly) as a tracer for river water that was diverted into the polder. A clear reduction in the river water contribution was found between very dry conditions on 5 August 2010 and very wet conditions on 22 October. Despite the large river water impact on 5 August, the diverted river water did not propagate up into the small agricultural headwater ditches. Gadolinium proved to be an effective tracer for diverted river water in a polder system. We applied our results to upgrade the interpretation of water quality monitoring data and to validate an integrated nutrient transport model.