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Hydrochemical appraisal and solute acquisitions in Seti River Basin, Central Himalaya, Nepal



The chemical characterization and assessment of the water quality in the headwater areas of the Himalaya are necessary for securing the water in the future. This study aims to assess the hydrochemistry and water quality concerning drinking and irrigational uses in the Seti River Basin (SRB), Nepal. A total of 45 water samples were collected in 2016 from the SRB during pre-monsoon, monsoon, and post-monsoon seasons, and pH, EC, TDS, and DO were measured on-site, whereas Ca2+, Mg2+, K+, Na+, Cl˗, SO42˗, NO3˗, and dissolved Si were analyzed in the laboratory. The results revealed mildly alkaline pH (8.40 ± 0.43) with the pattern of average ionic dominancy: Ca2+  > Mg2+  > Na+  > K+ and HCO3− > SO42− > Cl˗ > NO3˗ for cations and anions, respectively. Gibbs diagram implied that the lithogenic weathering mainly controlled the solute acquisition process, which was further confirmed by the Piper diagram, exhibiting Ca–HCO3 as the governing hydrochemical facies (91%). The average molar ratios were 0.88, 8.33, and 6.86 of (Ca2+ + Mg2+)/TZ+, (Ca2+ + Mg2+)/(Na+ + K+), and HCO3−/(Na+ + K+), respectively, which specified that the carbonate weathering largely controlled the solute acquisition processes with a minor contribution of silicates. The mass budget calculation also confirmed the dominance of carbonate weathering (72.0%, 78.9%, and 62.0% in Pre-Monsoon, Monsoon, and Post-Monsoon, respectively) and the high monsoon rainfall’s dilution effect to anthropogenic input of cations. Principal component analysis and correlation matrix exhibited that the major sources of ions in the basin were geogenic with minor anthropic signatures. Furthermore, water quality in connection to drinking and irrigation uses revealed that the basin has mostly retained its natural water quality. This investigation suggests that regular monitoring and assessment are essential for maintaining the water quality and ecological integrity in the Himalayan river basins.