We have developed a personal-computer-based water quality analysis system for river basins. The system estimates potential N outflow by model and calculates actual N outflow from monitoring data. For the former it uses the potential load factor method to estimate annual nitrogen load from various sources and runoff potential from each area of land in a basin. For the latter it analyzes water quality monitoring data in relation to meteorological data. We used the system to analyze N outflow in basins around Lake Kasumigaura and the Yahagi River in central Honshu, Japan. The land around Lake Kasumigaura is rather flat, and about 25% is periodically flooded for rice and lotus cultivation. The land around the Yahagi River is mountainous, and much less land is flooded. In the Yahagi River basin the actual N outflow agreed closely with the potential. However, the actual N outflow in the basin around Lake Kasumigaura was much less than the potential, suggesting that a large part of the N load is denitrified in flooded soils. This further indicates that a sequence of different land uses including flooded rice fields is an important factor determining N outflow in basins in Japan. On the basis of the above analyses, we incorporated a denitrification model into the system that enables us to estimate N balance in a designated basin; this system may be helpful in the formulation of scenarios of land use and soil management for improving water quality. Copyright by Science in China Press 2005.
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