Now showing 1 - 10 of 13
  • Publication
    Development of a Nutrient Load Apportionment Modelling Toolbox
    (2016-07-14)
    Where surface waters are impacted by excess nutrients, understanding the sources of those nutrients is key to the development of effective, targeted, mitigation measures. In Ireland, nutrient emissions remains the top suspected cause of surface waters not achieving the required Good Status, as defined by the Water Framework Directive (WFD). Hence, a toolbox has been developed to predict the sources of nutrients contributing to these emissions, and to assess future pressures and the likely effectiveness of targeted mitigation scenarios. This Source Load Apportionment Model (SLAM) supports catchment managers by providing scientifically robust evidence to back-up decision-making in relation to reducing nutrient pollution. The SLAM is a source-oriented model that calculates the nitrogen & phosphorus exported from each sector (e.g. pasture, forestry, wastewater discharges) that contribute to nutrient loads in a river. The SLAM was built as a modular framework in ArcGIS ModelBuilder to encourage continuous development by a range of scientific experts without the need for programming skills. Model output ispresented as maps andtablesshowing the proportionsof nutrientemissions to water attributed to each sector in each sub-catchment. Results for the Suir catchment, in the South East of Ireland, indicate that diffuse losses of nutrients from pasture arethe dominant source of nitrogen and both wastewater discharges and losses from pasture are dominant for phosphorus. The Irish EPA has incorporated these model results into the WFD characterisation process for Irish catchments.
      344
  • Publication
    What are the main sources of nutrient inputs to Ireland's aquatic environment?
    Where rivers and lakes are impacted by excess nutrients, we need to understand the sources of those nutrients before mitigation measures can be selected. In these areas, modelling can be used in conjunction with knowledge from local authorities and information gained from investigative assessments to identify significant pressures that contribute excessive nutrients to surface waters. Where surface waters are impacted by excess nutrients, understanding the sources of those nutrients is key to the development of effective, targeted mitigation measures. In Ireland, nutrient emissions are the main reason that surface waters are not achieving the required Good Status, as defined by the Water Framework Directive (WFD). A model has been developed in order to predict the sources of nutrients contributing to these emissions and to assess future pressures and the likely effectiveness of targeted mitigation scenarios. This Source Load Apportionment Model (SLAM) supports catchment managers by providing scientifically robust evidence to back-up decision-making in relation to reducing nutrient pollution. The SLAM is a source-oriented model that calculates the nitrogen and phosphorus exported from each sector (e.g. pasture, forestry, wastewater discharges) that contribute to nutrient loads in a river. Model output is presented as maps and tables showing the proportions of nutrient emissions to water attributed to each sector in each sub-catchment. The EPA has incorporated these model results into the multiple lines of evidence used for the WFD characterisation process for Irish catchments. 
      259
  • Publication
    Catchment Management Support Tools for Characterisation and Evaluation of Programme of Measures
    (Environmental Protection Agency, 2018-05) ;
    Nutrient enrichment and eutrophication can negatively impact on freshwater ecosystems, estuarine and coastal waters. As a result of improvements in nutrient management and regulation, there has been a large reduction in total phosphorus, total ammonia and total nitrogen emissions from Irish catchments in recent decades. However, half of Irish river water bodies still require improvements to bring them to Good status, as required by the Water Framework Directive (WFD) (2000/60/EC). The Catchment Management Support Tools for Characterisation and Evaluation of Programme of Measures project, or CatchmentTools project, developed data analysis tools and models for assessing nutrients in Irish catchments to support catchment scientists and managers to (1) characterise nutrient sources, pathways and receptors in catchments and (2) assess potential mitigation measures.
      210
  • Publication
    Progress in Implementation of the Water Framework Directive in Ireland
    Successful implementation of the Water Framework Directive is vital to water resources management in Ireland. Based on lessons learned from the 1st cycle of implementation, more effective governance arrangements have been put in place, the EPA has been given additional responsibilities and community engagement has been given a high priority. Integrated catchment management (ICM) has become the accepted philosophy and approach. ICM requires catchments to be the appropriate organising landscape unit for water management, which is undertaken at five scales: site/field; water body (almost 5,000 groundwater, river, lake, transitional and coastal); subcatchment (583); catchment (46) and river basin (one national and two international). A comprehensive characterisation process is being undertaken which allocates all WBs into At Risk, Not at Risk and Review categories, whereby At Risk WBs require actions and resources to improve the situation. Geoscientific information and understanding are critical to the characterisation process. Initial subcatchment and catchment characterisation is due for completion in early 2017. Consideration of environmental objectives and mitigation measures has commenced, and will be finalised for the River Basin Management Plan due for publication in December 2017. A new tool, the WFD Application, has been developed to enable ready access to water quality data and the outcomes of the characterisation work. The Application is being made available through the development of a new 'water hub' website called catchments.ie.
      987
  • Publication
    What have we learned from over two decades of monitoring riverine nutrient inputs to Ireland's marine environment?
    Excessive nutrient loading to the marine environment from different sources and pathways, including rivers, has led to nutrient over-enrichment and the phenomenon of eutrophication in estuaries and coastal waters. The systematic monitoring of riverine nutrient inputs to Ireland's marine environment began in 1990. Over this period there has been a large reduction in nutrient inputs with loads of total phosphorus, total ammonia and total nitrogen decreasing by 71.8% (4,716 tonnes), 77.3% (5,505 tonnes) and 39.0% (59,396 tonnes), respectively. The largest reductions, particularly in total phosphorus and total ammonia, were seen in the main rivers discharging to the Celtic and Irish Sea coasts, with smaller or no reductions in rivers discharging along the western and north-western Atlantic coast. The reductions indicate the success of measures to reduce nutrient loss but also the disproportionate reduction in phosphorus over nitrogen. The ratio between nitrogen and phosphorus loads has increased by 2.5% per year and by as much as 4.1% per year for discharges to the Celtic Sea. As a consequence, the stoichiometric N:P ratio of river inputs to the Celtic Sea has more than doubled. The potential for this disparity to create a nutrient imbalance in downstream estuarine and coastal waters is discussed.
      469Scopus© Citations 8
  • Publication
    Nutrient Load Apportionment to Support the Identification of Appropriate Water Framework Directive Measures
    A model for predicting the sources of nutrient loads (phosphorus and nitrogen) to water has been developed to support Water Framework Directive (WFD) implementation. This model integrates catchment data and pressure information to enable characterisation of Source-Pathway-Receptor relationships. The Source Load Apportionment Model (SLAM) is a flexible framework for incorporating national data and research to quantify nutrient losses from both point discharges (urban wastewater, industry and septic tank systems) and diffuse sources (pasture, arable, forestry, peatlands etc.). Hydrogeological controls have a strong impact on nutrient fluxes, particularly in agricultural catchments, and have been incorporated into the diffuse agricultural model, the Catchment Characterisation Tool (CCT). This paper describes the SLAM framework, including the CCT, along with the data inputs and assumptions. Results for the Suir catchment matched the measured loads of nitrogen and phosphorus well, and showed that pasture is the dominant source of nitrogen across all sub-catchments. The main sources of phosphorus in sub-catchments varied between diffuse agriculture, wastewater and industrial discharges. A relatively small proportion (13%) of the Suir catchment area requires a reduction in phosphorus emissions to achieve Good Status. In these areas, model results can be used in conjunction with knowledge from local authorities and investigative assessments gathered through the WFD characterisation process to identify significant pressures that contribute excessive nutrient loads. An example of assessing load reduction scenarios is presented to illustrate how modelling can support catchment scientists and managers in identifying appropriate measures. 
      859Scopus© Citations 10
  • Publication
    Sources of nitrogen and phosphorus emissions to Irish rivers and coastal waters: Estimates from a nutrient load apportionment framework
    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
      582Scopus© Citations 92
  • Publication
    Assessing the relative importance of parameter and forcing uncertainty and their interactions in conceptual hydrological model simulations
    Predictions of river flow dynamics provide vital information for many aspects of water management including water resource planning, climate adaptation, and flood and drought assessments. Many of the subjective choices that modellers make including model and criteria selection can have a significant impact on the magnitude and distribution of the output uncertainty. Hydrological modellers are tasked with understanding and minimising the uncertainty surrounding streamflow predictions before communicating the overall uncertainty to decision makers. Parameter uncertainty in conceptual rainfall-runoff models has been widely investigated, and model structural uncertainty and forcing data have been receiving increasing attention. This study aimed to assess uncertainties in streamflow predictions due to forcing data and the identification of behavioural parameter sets in 31 Irish catchments. By combining stochastic rainfall ensembles and multiple parameter sets for three conceptual rainfall-runoff models, an analysis of variance model was used to decompose the total uncertainty in streamflow simulations into contributions from (i) forcing data, (ii) identification of model parameters and (iii) interactions between the two. The analysis illustrates that, for our subjective choices, hydrological model selection had a greater contribution to overall uncertainty, while performance criteria selection influenced the relative intra-annual uncertainties in streamflow predictions. Uncertainties in streamflow predictions due to the method of determining parameters were relatively lower for wetter catchments, and more evenly distributed throughout the year when the Nash-Sutcliffe Efficiency of logarithmic values of flow (lnNSE) was the evaluation criterion.
      463Scopus© Citations 42
  • Publication
    Linking changes in nutrient load source apportionment to estuarine responses: an Irish perspective
    In the Irish environment, anthropogenic pressures have led to widespread nutrient over-enrichment and eutrophication in surface waters. In the past 25 years European Directives have been implemented resulting in significant measures to improve water quality. Multi-decadal monitoring of nutrient inputs from rivers, and response parameters in estuarine and coastal systems, allows for a comparison of the effectiveness of these measures. In this study, trends in nutrient inputs from eighteen river systems and downstream estuarine parameters between 2000 and 2013 are explored. The results are placed in the context of changes in nutrient source load apportionment modelled through a newly developed GIS tool. Measured phosphorus inputs showed a significant reduction from fifteen catchments, with only four rivers showing a concurrent reduction in nitrogen.Significant Parallel improvements in estuarine water quality were evident in eight downstream systems, highlighting the complexity of response mechanisms. Load apportionment illustrated that the effectiveness of measures largely depended on factors such as land use and the proximity of large urban agglomerations to the estuary. The partitioning of nutrient sources could determine the nutrient landscape of the downstream estuary, with possible implications for the ecological health of the system.The results of the study will inform decision makers on the effectiveness of measures to date and the possible response of systems to future controls in the light of targets set out under the Water Framework Directive.
      395Scopus© Citations 15
  • Publication
    Understanding hydrological flow paths in conceptual catchment models using uncertainty and sensitivity analysis
    Increasing pressures on water quality due to intensification of agriculture have raised demands for environmental modeling to accurately simulate the movement of diffuse (nonpoint) nutrients in catchments. As hydrological flows drive the movement and attenuation of nutrients, individual hydrological processes in models should be adequately represented for water quality simulations to be meaningful. In particular, the relative contribution of groundwater and surface runoff to rivers is of interest, as increasing nitrate concentrations are linked to higher groundwater discharges. These requirements for hydrological modeling of groundwater contribution to rivers initiated this assessment of internal flow path partitioning in conceptual hydrological models. In this study, a variance based sensitivity analysis method was used to investigate parameter sensitivities and flow partitioning of three conceptual hydrological models simulating 31 Irish catchments. We compared two established conceptual hydrological models (NAM and SMARG) and a new model (SMART), produced especially for water quality modelling. In addition to the criteria that assess streamflow simulations, a ratio of average groundwater contribution to total streamflow was calculated for all simulations over the 16 year study period. As observations time-series of groundwater contributions to streamflow are not available at catchment scale, the groundwater ratios were evaluated against average annual indices of base flow and deep groundwater flow for each catchment. The exploration of sensitivities of internal flow path partitioning was a specific focus to assist in evaluating model performances. Results highlight that model structure has a strong impact on simulated groundwater flow paths. Sensitivity to the internal pathways in the models are not reflected in the performance criteria results. This demonstrates that simulated groundwater contribution should be constrained by independent data to ensure results within realistic bounds if such models are to be used in the broader environmental sustainability decision making context.
      650Scopus© Citations 36