Imprints of COVID-19 lockdown on the surface water quality of Bagmati river basin, Nepal.

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COVID-19 pandemic has caused profound impacts on human life and the environment including freshwater ecosystems globally. Despite the various impacts, the pandemic has improved the quality of the environment and thereby creating an opportunity to restore the degraded ecosystems. This study presents the imprints of COVID-19 lockdown on the surface water quality and chemical characteristics of the urban-based Bagmati River Basin (BRB), Nepal. A total of 50 water samples were collected from 25 sites of BRB during the monsoon season, in 2019 and 2020. The water temperature, pH, electrical conductivity, total dissolved solids, dissolved oxygen (DO), and turbidity were measured in-situ, while the major ions, total hardness, biological oxygen demand (BOD), and chemical oxygen demand (COD) were analyzed in the laboratory. The results revealed neutral to mildly alkaline waters with relatively moderate mineralization and dissolved chemical constituents in the BRB. The average ionic abundance followed the order of Ca2+ > Na+ > Mg2+ > K+ > NH4+ for cations and HCO3-> Cl- > SO42- > NO3- > PO43- for anions. Comparing to the pre-lockdown, the level of DO was increased by 1.5 times, whereas the BOD and COD were decreased by 1.5 and 1.9 times, respectively during the post-lockdown indicating the improvement of the quality water which was also supported by the results of multivariate statistical analyses. This study confirms that the remarkable recovery of degraded aquatic ecosystems is possible with limiting anthropic activities.

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Authors: Ramesh Raj Pant, Kiran Bishwakarma, Faizan Ur Rehman Qaiser, Lalit Pathak, Gauri Jayaswal, Bhawana Sapkota, Khadka Bahadur Pal, Lal Bahadur Thapa, Madan Koirala, Kedar Rijal, Rejina Maskey