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Title: Forecasting changes in water quality in rivers associated with growing biofuels in the Arkansas-White-Red river drainage, USA

We study that the mid-section of the Arkansas-White-Red (AWR) river basin near the 100th parallel is particularly promising for sustainable biomass production using cellulosic perennial crops and residues. Along this longitudinal band, precipitation becomes limiting to competing crops that require irrigation from an increasingly depleted groundwater aquifer. In addition, the deep-rooted perennial, switchgrass, produces modest-to-high yields in this region with minimal inputs and could compete against alternative crops and land uses at relatively low cost. Previous studies have also suggested that switchgrass and other perennial feedstocks offer environmentally benign alternatives to corn and corn stover. However, water quality implications remain a significant concern for conversion of marginal lands to bioenergy production because excess nutrients produced by agriculture for food or for energy contribute to eutrophication in the dead-zone in the Gulf of Mexico. This study addresses water quality implications for the AWR river basin. We used the SWAT model to compare water quality in rivers draining a baseline, pre-cellulosic-bioenergy and post-cellulosic-bioenergy landscapes for 2022 and 2030. Simulated water quality responses varied across the region, but with a net tendency toward decreased amounts of nutrient and sediment, particularly in subbasins with large areas of bioenergy crops in 2030 future scenarios. Wemore » conclude that water quality is one aspect of sustainability for which cellulosic bioenergy production in this region holds promise.« less
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  1. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
  2. Texas A&M Univ., College Station, TX (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Global Change Biology. Bioenergy
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 7; Journal Issue: 4; Journal ID: ISSN 1757-1693
Research Org:
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)
Country of Publication:
United States