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Forskningsartikel2018Vetenskapligt granskadÖppen tillgång

Peatland ditch blocking has no effect on dissolved organic matter (DOM) quality

Peacock, Mike; Jones, Tim G.; Futter, Martyn N.; Freeman, Chris; Gough, Rachel; Baird, Andrew J.; Green, Sophie M.; Chapman, Pippa J.; Holden, Joseph; Evans, Chris D.


The globally widespread drainage of peatlands has often been shown to lead to increased concentrations and fluxes of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in streams and rivers. Elevated DOC concentrations have implications for carbon cycling, ecosystem functioning, and potable water treatment. Peatland rewetting, principally through ditch blocking, is often carried out with the expectation that this will reduce DOC concentrations. Uncertainty still remains as to whether drainage, or its reversal via ditch blocking, will also lead to changes in the molecular composition of DOC/dissolved organic matter (DOM), which have the potential to affect downstream processing and treatability of U.K. drinking water supplies. To investigate this question, we used a replicated experiment consisting of 12 parallel ditches on an upland bog and took samples of ditch water, pore water, and overland flow water for 4 years. After a brief preblocking baseline period, eight ditches were blocked using two methods. A complementary suite of optical metrics, chemical measurements, and analytical techniques revealed that ditch blocking had no consistent effect on DOM quality, up to 4 years after blocking. Where significant differences were found, effect size calculations demonstrated that these differences were small and would therefore have minimal impact upon water treatability. Furthermore, some differences between ditches were evident before blocking took place, highlighting the need for robust baseline monitoring before intervention. Based on our results from a hillslope-scale experiment, we were unable to identify clear evidence that peatland ditch blocking will deliver benefits in terms of DOM treatability in potable water supplies, although we also did not find any evidence of short-term deterioration in water quality during the restoration period. We conclude that, although peatland restoration can be expected to deliver other benefits such as reduced carbon loss and enhanced biodiversity, it is doubtful whether it will lead to improvements in drinking water treatability.


blanket bog; carbon cycling; dissolved organic carbon; peatland restoration; rewetting; trihalomethanes; water quality; water treatment

Publicerad i

Hydrological Processes
2018, Volym: 32, nummer: 26, sidor: 3891-3906 Utgivare: WILEY