The use of mathematical models is a good decision making tool in river basin management for selection of wastewater treatment technologies and for estimation of the impact of discharged wastewater on the quality of receiving streams. In rivers mostly polluted with degradable organic matter, the major effect of wastewater discharge results in a substantial decrease of dissolved oxygen. The model QUAL2E developed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency was applied to wastewater impact assessment in the Sava river (Slovenia). We present the procedures for the determination of input data for the QUAL2E model. The sediment oxygen demand rate constant was determined experimentally in situ using an specially designed device; the degradation rate constant was determined in a river laboratory model; hydrological characteristics were evaluated on the basis of empirical coefficients; while the reaeration rate constant was calculated on the basis of an energy dissipation model. The mathematical water quality model QUAL2E was calibrated on the basis of field and laboratory measurements and validated with an independent set of data for critical summer low flow conditions when the dissolved oxygen concentrations are low. A sensitivity analysis of the model was also performed. The validated model was then used to estimate the impact of municipal and industrial wastewater discharges on dissolved oxygen concentrations in the Sava river near Ljubljana. The model was used to simulate various conditions in the river and various degrees of treatment of discharged wastewaters. It is estimated according to the model predictions that at critical summer low flow conditions, wastewater should be treated to reach a BOD under 30 mg l−1 with the goal that Slovenian water quality standards are not violated, meaning a dissolved oxygen concentration above 5 mg l−1.

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