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Title: Hydrologic and water quality impacts of biofuel feedstock production in the Ohio River Basin

Our study addresses the uncertainties related to potential changes in land use and management and associated impacts on hydrology and water quality resulting from increased production of biofuel from the conventional and cellulosic feedstock. The Soil Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) was then used to assess the impacts on regional and field scale evapotranspiration, soil moisture content, stream flow, sediment, and nutrient loadings in the Ohio River Basin. The model incorporates spatially and temporally detailed hydrologic, climate and agricultural practice data that are pertinent to simulate biofuel feedstock production, watershed hydrology and water quality. Three future biofuel production scenarios in the region were considered, including a feedstock projection from the DOE Billion-Ton (BT2) Study, a change in corn rotations to continuous corn, and harvest of 50% corn stover. The impacts were evaluated on the basis of relative changes in hydrology and water quality from historical baseline and future business-as-usual conditions of the basin. The overall impact on water quality is an order of magnitude higher than the impact on hydrology. For all the three future scenarios, the sub-basin results indicated an overall increase in annual evapotranspiration of up to 6%, a decrease in runoff up to 10% and minimal change inmore » soil moisture. The sediment and phosphorous loading at both regional and field levels increased considerably (up to 40–90%) for all the biofuel feedstock scenario considered, while the nitrogen loading increased up to 45% in some regions under the BT2 Study scenario, decreased up to 10% when corn are grown continuously instead of in rotations, and changed minimally when 50% of the stover are harvested. Field level analyses revealed significant variability in hydrology and water quality impacts that can further be used to identify suitable locations for the feedstock productions without causing major impacts on water quantity and quality.« less
ORCiD logo [1] ;  [2] ;  [3]
  1. Washington State Univ., Richland, WA (United States). Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering
  2. Argonne National Lab. (ANL), Argonne, IL (United States). Environmental Science Division
  3. Argonne National Lab. (ANL), Argonne, IL (United States). Energy Systems Division
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
Published Article
Journal Name:
Global Change Biology. Bioenergy
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 9; Journal Issue: 12; Journal ID: ISSN 1757-1693
Research Org:
Argonne National Lab. (ANL), Argonne, IL (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Bioenergy Technologies Office (EE-3B)
Country of Publication:
United States
09 BIOMASS FUELS; billion-ton study; bioenergy; corn rotation; evapotranspiration; nutrient loading; runoff; sediment loading; soil moisture; stover harvest
OSTI Identifier:
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1368633; OSTI ID: 1416957