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Declines in phosphorus concentration in the upper River Thames (UK): Links to sewage effluent cleanup and extended end member mixing analysis

Neal, Colin; Jarvie, Helen P.; Williams, Richard; Love, Alison; Neal, Margaret; Wickham, Heather; Harman, Sarah; Armstrong, Linda. 2010 Declines in phosphorus concentration in the upper River Thames (UK): Links to sewage effluent cleanup and extended end member mixing analysis. Science of the Total Environment, 408 (6). 1315-1330. 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2009.10.055

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Abstract/Summary

Phosphorus concentrations in the upper River Thames Basin (southeastern England) are described and linked to sewage effluent sources. Weekly surveys between 1997 and 2007 of the Thames and two of its ajor tributaries, the Thame and the Kennet indicated that phosphorus was mainly in soluble reactive (SRP) form. Baseflow concentrations in the Thames reduced from 1584 μg/l in 1998 to 376 μg/l in 2006 and from 2655 to 715 μg/l for the Thame. Flow response, flux and endmember mixing analysis indicated that these declines resulted from SRP reductions in sewage treatment works (STW) effluent following phosphorus stripping for the major STWs in the region. This was confirmed by comparing our analysis with direct measurements of SRP in the effluents based on Environment Agency data. A within-river loss under baseflow of ~64% (range 56 - 78%) of the SRP-effluent input was estimated for the Thames, with a near balance for the Thame. SRP concentrations in the Kennet were an order of magnitude lower than the Thames/Thame: non-point sources dominated and were important for all the rivers at high flows. Itwas concluded that removal of SRP fromeffluentswould be insufficient SRP in the Thames and Thame tomeet annual average environmental targets of 50 to 120 μg/l. The paper flags the value of combining hydrological/chemical tracing and concentration/flux approaches to data interrogation and the bonus of having actual measurements of the effluent. It highlights the need for fuller assessment ofwater storage/sediment/biota interactions for phosphorus and for caution in using boron as a long- term tracer for effluent inputs, its concentrations having declined markedly in response to reduced usage in washing powders: the value of using sodium as a tracer for examining SRP changes is shown.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2009.10.055
Programmes: CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 onwards > Water > WA Topic 1 - Variability and Change in Water Systems > WA - 1.2 - Quantify variability and departures from natural historical variability in water quality ...
CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 onwards > Biogeochemistry > BGC Topic 2 - Biogeochemistry and Climate System Processes > BGC - 2.1 - Quantify & model processes that control the emission, fate and bioavailability of pollutants
CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 onwards > Biogeochemistry > BGC Topic 1 - Monitoring and Interpretation of Biogeochemical and Climate Changes > BGC - 1.1 - Monitor concentrations, fluxes, physico-chemical forms of current and emerging pollutants ...
CEH Sections: Acreman
Boorman
ISSN: 0048-9697
Additional Keywords: River Thames, Phosphorus, Sewage, Agriculture, Endmember mixing analysis, Phosphorus stripping, WFD
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Hydrology
Date made live: 03 Feb 2010 09:31
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/8513

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