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The strategic significance of wastewater sources to pollutant phosphorus levels in English rivers and to environmental management for rural, agricultural and urban catchments

Neal, Colin; Jarvie, Helen; Withers, Paul J.A.; Whitton, Brian A.; Neal, Margaret. 2010 The strategic significance of wastewater sources to pollutant phosphorus levels in English rivers and to environmental management for rural, agricultural and urban catchments. Science of the Total Environment, 408 (7). 1485-1500. 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2009.12.020

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Abstract/Summary

The relationship between soluble and particulate phosphorus was examined for 9 major UK rivers including 26 major tributaries and 68 monitoring points, covering wide-ranging rural and agricultural/urban impacted systems with catchment areas varying from 1 to 6000 km2 scales. Phosphorus concentrations in Soluble Reactive (SRP), Total Dissolved (TDP), Total (TP), Dissolved Hydrolysable (DHP) and Particulate (PP) forms correlated with effluent markers (sodium and boron) and SRP was generally dominant signifying the importance of sewage sources. Low flows were particularly enriched in SRP, TDP and TP for average SRP > 100 μg/l indicating low effluent dilution. At particularly low average concentrations, SRP increased with flow but effluent sources were still implicated as the effluent markers (boron in particular) increased likewise. For rural areas, DHP had proportionately high concentrations and SRP + DHP concentrations could exceed environmental thresholds currently set for SRP. Given DHP has a high bioavailability the environmental implications need further consideration. PP concentrations were generally highest at high flows but PP in the suspended solids was generally at its lowest and in general PP correlated with particulate organic carbon and more so than the suspended sediment in total. Separation of pollutant inputs solely between effluent and diffuse (agriculture) components is misleading, as part of the “diffuse” term comprises effluents flushed from the catchments during high flow. Effluent sources of phosphorus supplied directly or indirectly to the river coupled with within-river interactions between water/sediment/biota largely determine pollutant levels. The study flags the fundamental need of placing direct and indirect effluent sources and contaminated storage with interchange to/from the river at the focus for remediation strategies for UK rivers in relation to eutrophication and the WFD.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2009.12.020
Programmes: CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Water
CEH Sections: Acreman
ISSN: 0048-9697
Additional Keywords: phosphorus, rivers, sediments, pollution, agriculture, sewage, particulate organic carbon
NORA Subject Terms: Agriculture and Soil Science
Ecology and Environment
Hydrology
Date made live: 02 Mar 2011 16:18
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/13688

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