Sources of nitrogen and phosphorus emissions to Irish rivers and coastal waters: Estimates from a nutrient load apportionment framework

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Title: Sources of nitrogen and phosphorus emissions to Irish rivers and coastal waters: Estimates from a nutrient load apportionment framework
Authors: Mockler, Eva M.
Deakin, Jenny
Archbold, Marie A.
Gill, Laurence
Daly, Donal
Bruen, Michael
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Date: 1-Dec-2017
Abstract: More than half of surface water bodies in Europe are at less than good ecological status according to Water Framework Directive assessments, and diffuse pollution from agriculture remains a major, but not the only, cause of this poor performance. Agri-environmental policy and land management practices have, in many areas, reduced nutrient emissions to water. However, additional measures may be required in Ireland to further decouple the relationship between agricultural productivity and emissions to water, which is of vital importance given on-going agricultural intensification. The Source Load Apportionment Model (SLAM) framework characterises sources of phosphorus (P) and nitrogen (N) emissions to water at a range of scales from sub-catchment to national. The SLAM synthesises land use and physical characteristics to predict emissions from point (wastewater, industry discharges and septic tank systems) and diffuse sources (agriculture, forestry, etc.). The predicted annual nutrient emissions were assessed against monitoring data for 16 major river catchments covering 50% of the area of Ireland. At national scale, results indicate that total average annual emissions to surface water in Ireland are over 2700 t yr- 1 of P and 82,000 t yr- 1 of N. The proportional contributions from individual sources show that the main sources of P are from municipal wastewater treatment plants and agriculture, with wide variations across the country related to local anthropogenic pressures and the hydrogeological setting. Agriculture is the main source of N emissions to water across all regions of Ireland. These policy-relevant results synthesised large amounts of information in order to identify the dominant sources of nutrients at regional and local scales, contributing to the national nutrient risk assessment of Irish water bodies
Funding Details: Environmental Protection Agency
Type of material: Journal Article
Publisher: Elsevier
Copyright (published version): 2017 the Authors
Keywords: Nutrient load apportionment modellingPhosphorusNitrogenIntegrated catchment managementDiffuse pollutionWater framework directive
DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.05.186
Language: en
Status of Item: Peer reviewed
Appears in Collections:Centre for Water Resources Research Collection
Civil Engineering Research Collection

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