Assessment of current water pollution loads in Europe: estimation of gridded loads for use in global water quality models

Williams, Richard; Keller, Virginie; Voss, Anja; Barlund, Ilona; Malve, Olli; Riihimaki, Juha; Tattari, Sirkka; Alcamo, Joseph. 2012 Assessment of current water pollution loads in Europe: estimation of gridded loads for use in global water quality models. Hydrological Processes, 26 (16). 2395-2410.

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A methodology for estimating the loading of pollutants to water courses across all of pan-Europe, an area reaching to the River Don in the east and including some Mediterranean rim countries in the near east and North Africa is presented. Loadings come from point (domestic effluent, manufacturing discharge and urban runoff) and diffuse (scattered settlements and land use) sources. The loads have been calculated on a countrywide basis using readily available data held by national and international bodies. These loads are downscaled to the grid cells (5 × 5′) used in the model. The paper illustrates the general framework for making these calculations using biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and total dissolved solids (TDS), and estimated loads for periods representing 1990, 1995, 2000 and 2005 are presented as maps. According to the model, in 2005, annual BOD loads came mostly from domestic effluent (3 Mt) and diffuse sources (5 Mt, mainly attributed to livestock). Manufacturing, urban runoff and scattered settlements contributed annual loads of 0.33, 0.15 and 1.2 Mt, respectively. For TDS, annual manufacturing loads were 65 Mt and annual domestic loads 28 Mt. Diffuse loadings (36 Mt) came from irrigated land and therefore showed a different spatial pattern from BOD. The total annual diffuse load of TDS was 56 Mt. Scattered settlements contributed only 9.6 Mt to the total pan-European load. Some limited comparison of the loads estimated in this study for BOD with those estimated by others for countries and large catchments in the area has been carried out.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: 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
CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Water > WA Topic 2 - Ecohydrological Processes > WA - 2.1 - Identify and quantify sources, fluxes and pathways of water, chemicals ...
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Boorman (to September 2014)
ISSN: 0885-6087
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: This document is the author’s final manuscript version of the journal article, incorporating any revisions agreed during the peer review process. Some differences between this and the publisher’s version remain. You are advised to consult the publisher’s version if you wish to cite from this article. The definitive version is available at
Additional Keywords: biochemical oxygen demand, total dissolved solids, diffuse pollution, point source pollution, source apportionment
NORA Subject Terms: Hydrology
Date made live: 04 Jul 2012 13:14 +0 (UTC)

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