Many developing countries and regions are currently facing serious water environmental problems, especially the lack of monitoring systems for medium- to small-sized watersheds. The load duration curve (LDC) is an effective method to identify polluted waterbodies and clarify the point sources or non-point sources of pollutants. However, it is a large challenge to establish the LDC in small river basins due to the lack of available observed runoff data. In addition, the LDC cannot yet spatially trace the specific sources of the pollutants. To overcome the limitations of LDC, this study develops a LDC based on a distributed hydrological model of the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT). First, the SWAT model is used to generate the runoff data. Then, for the control and management of over-loaded polluted water, the spatial distribution and transportation of original sources of point and non-point pollutants are ascertained with the aid of the SWAT model. The development procedures of LDC proposed in this study are applied to the Jian-jiang River basin, a tributary of the Yangtze River, in Duyun city of Guizhou province. The results indicate the effectiveness of the method, which is applicable for water environmental management in data-scarce river basins.

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