Total dissolved solids (TDS) in lake and catchment water is a result of geological structure, as well as duration of rock and water contact and human activity. In this paper, a potential dissolved solids (PtDS) in three Łęczna–Włodawa Lake catchments was determined using extraction and computer software (GIS and AquaChem). Human pressure on water quality was estimated as a difference of the TDS and a catchment hydrogeochemical potential (TPtDS, total potential dissolved solids). TPtDS coefficient included hydrogeological features of the aquifer, soil cover impact on infiltrated water quality, and sediments susceptibility to denudation. The main advantage of the model is a possibility of its employment for every catchment or other areas (e.g. administrative) on both microscale and mesoscale. The highest TPtDS occurred in the catchment, favoured with underground supply, which was located in the vicinity of the Cretaceous mesoregional unit (Chełm Hills). The lowest value was observed in the catchment built with organogenic sediments and coarse material. A seasonal constancy of TPtDS values proved a stability of the lake-catchment systems under study. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.