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High-frequency phosphorus monitoring of the River Kennet, UK: are ecological problems due to intermittent sewage treatment works failures?

Bowes, Michael J.; Palmer-Felgate, Elizabeth J.; Jarvie, Helen P.; Loewenthal, Matthew; Wickham, Heather D.; Harman, Sarah A.; Carr, Emily. 2012 High-frequency phosphorus monitoring of the River Kennet, UK: are ecological problems due to intermittent sewage treatment works failures? Journal of Environmental Monitoring, 14 (12). 3137-3145. 10.1039/c2em30705g

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Abstract/Summary

The River Kennet in southern England has exhibited excessive benthic algal growth and associated ecological problems, such as loss of macrophytes and invertebrates, since the 1980s. These ecological problems were attributed to regular peaks in phosphorus concentration, which were widely attributed to intermittent failures of the Marlborough sewage treatment works (STW). This study deployed highfrequency phosphorus auto-analysers to monitor the total reactive phosphorus (TRP) concentrations of Marlborough STW final effluent and the downstream River Kennet at hourly and 30 minute resolution respectively, between 2008 and 2009. This monitoring confirmed that the Marlborough STW was operating well within its 1000 mg l-�1 annual mean total phosphorus consent limit, with mean total P and soluble reactive P concentrations of 675 and 345 mg l-�1 respectively. There were two occasions where effluent TRP concentration exceeded 1000 mg l-�1, and only one of these resulted in a peak in TRP concentration of over 100 mg l-�1 in the River Kennet at Mildenhall. The other nine peaks of over 100 mg l-�1 in the River Kennet during the monitoring period were associated with storm events, indicating that diffuse-source inputs and remobilisation of stored within-channel phosphorus were the cause of the peaks in river concentration, rather than Marlborough STW. The value of high-frequency environmental monitoring and the problems associated with using nutrient auto-analysers in the field are discussed. Seasonal phosphorus consents for STWs could provide a useful and cost effective means to improve both water quality and river ecology in the upper River Kennet.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1039/c2em30705g
Programmes: CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 onwards > Water > WA Topic 2 - Ecohydrological Processes > WA - 2.1 - Identify and quantify sources, fluxes and pathways of water, chemicals ...
CEH Sections: Acreman
ISSN: 1464-0325
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: This document is the author’s final manuscript version of the journal article following the peer review process. Some differences between this and the publisher’s version may remain. You are advised to consult the publisher’s version if you wish to cite from this article.
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Hydrology
Chemistry
Date made live: 07 Nov 2012 11:44
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/20119

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