What impact might mitigation of diffuse nitrate pollution have on river water quality in a rural catchment?

Hutchins, Michael G.. 2012 What impact might mitigation of diffuse nitrate pollution have on river water quality in a rural catchment? Journal of Environmental Management, 109. 19-26.

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Observations of river flow, river quality and solar radiation were collated to assess the degree to which light and nutrients may be limiting phytoplankton growth at seven sites in the River Ouse catchment in NE England under average conditions. Hydraulic information derived from river network model applications was then used to determine where river water has sufficient residence time above the tidal limit to facilitate bloom development. A nitrate model (NALTRACES) was developed to estimate the impact of land management change on mean river nitrate concentrations. Applications of this model showed that although agricultural activity contributes substantially to nitrate loads in the Ouse it is likely to have little impact on phytoplankton growth, which could still occur extensively in its absence given favourable sunny and dry conditions. As an example of a means of controlling light availability, establishing full riparian tree cover would appear to be a considerably more effective management scenario than suppressing inputs to the river of nitrate or phosphorus. Any actions should be prioritised in headwater areas such as the upper reaches of the Swale and Ure tributaries. These conclusions are in broad agreement with those arising from more detailed simulations at daily resolution using the QUESTOR river quality model. The combination of simple modelling approaches applied here allows an initial identification of suitable spatially-targeted options for mitigating against phytoplankton blooms which can be applied more widely at a regional or national level.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Water > WA Topic 1 - Variability and Change in Water Systems > WA - 1.3 - Model, attribute and predict impacts of climate and land cover change on hydrological and freshwater systems
CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Water > WA Topic 3 - Science for Water Management > WA - 3.4 - Develop novel and improved methods to enable the sustainable management of freshwaters and wetlands
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Boorman (to September 2014)
ISSN: 0301-4797
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: The attached document is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Journal of Environmental Management. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Journal of Environmental Management, 109. 19-26. 10.1016/j.jenvman.2012.04.045
Additional Keywords: nitrate, phytoplankton, river water quality, catchment modelling, pollution mitigation, policy
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 13 Jun 2012 10:38 +0 (UTC)

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