Mains water leakage: implications for phosphorus source apportionment and policy responses in catchments

Gooddy, Daren C.; Ascott, Matthew J.; Lapworth, Dan J. ORCID:; Ward, Robert S.; Jarvie, Helen P.; Bowes, Mike J. ORCID:; Tipping, Edward ORCID:; Dils, Rachael; Surridge, Ben W.J.. 2017 Mains water leakage: implications for phosphorus source apportionment and policy responses in catchments. Science of the Total Environment, 579. 702-708.

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Effective strategies to reduce phosphorus (P)-enrichment of aquatic ecosystems require accurate quantification of the absolute and relative importance of individual sources of P. In this paper, we quantify the potential significance of a source of P that has been neglected to date. Phosphate dosing of raw water supplies to reduce lead and copper concentrations in drinking water is a common practice globally. However, mains water leakage (MWL) potentially leads to a direct input of P into the environment, bypassing wastewater treatment. We develop a new approach to estimate the spatial distribution and time-variant flux of MWL-P, demonstrating this approach for a 30-year period within the exemplar of the River Thames catchment in the UK. Our analyses suggest that MWL-P could be equivalent to up to c.24% of the P load entering the River Thames from sewage treatment works and up to c.16% of the riverine P load derived from agricultural non-point sources. We consider a range of policy responses that could reduce MWL-P loads to the environment, including incorporating the environmental damage costs associated with P in setting targets for MWL reduction, alongside inclusion of MWL-P within catchment-wide P permits.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Rees (from October 2014)
ISSN: 0048-9697
Additional Keywords: GroundwaterBGS, groundwater, phosphate, eutrophication, mains water leakage, health, policy, Point source pollution, Surface water interaction
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 07 Feb 2017 09:59 +0 (UTC)

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