Domestic Water Supply Dynamics Using Stable Isotopes δ18O, δD, and d-Excess


Surface water is the greatest contributor to many water supplies in urbanized areas. Understanding local water sources and seasonality is important in evaluating water resource management, which is essential to ensure the sustainability of water supplies to provide potable water. Here we describe the municipal water cycle of Columbus, Ohio, USA, using δ18O, δD, and d-excess, and follow water from precipitation through surface reservoirs to a residential tap between May 2010 and November 2011. We show that trends in water isotopic composition of Ohio precipitation have a seasonal character with more negative values during the winter months and more positive values during the summer months. The year of 2011 was the wettest year on record in Central Ohio, with many months having high d-excess values (>+15‰), suggestive of increased moisture recycling, and possibly moisture introduced from more local sources. Tap waters experienced little lag time in the managed system, having a residence time of ~2 months in the reservoirs. Tap waters and reservoir waters preserved the isotopic signal of the precipitation, but the reservoir morphology also influenced the water residence time, and hence, the isotopic relationship to the precipitation. The reservoirs supplied by the Scioto River function like a river system with a fast throughput of water. The other reservoirs display more constant solute concentrations, longer flow-through times, and more lacustrine qualities. This work provides a basic understanding of a regional water supply system in Central Ohio and helps characterize the water flow in the system. These data will provide useful baseline information for the future as urban populations grow and the climate and hydrologic cycle changes.

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Leslie, D. , Welch, K. and Lyons, W. (2014) Domestic Water Supply Dynamics Using Stable Isotopes δ18O, δD, and d-Excess. Journal of Water Resource and Protection, 6, 1517-1532. doi: 10.4236/jwarp.2014.616139.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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