Title: Long term change of nutrient concentrations of rivers discharging in European seas
Citation: SCIENCE OF THE TOTAL ENVIRONMENT vol. 409 no. 23 p. 4899-4916
Publication Year: 2011
JRC N°: JRC62999
ISSN: 0048-9697
URI: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969711008394
DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2011.08.015
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: Cases of severe eutrophication are still observed in European surface waters even though tough regulation has been in place since the beginning of the ¿90s to control nutrient losses and inputs in the environment. The purpose of this research is to evaluate the evolution since 1985 of water quality entering European Seas in terms of major nutrients concentration (nitrogen and phosphorus), and to analyze the effectiveness of implemented national/international measures and European legislation in reducing water nutrient pollution. The results show that even though many European countries have reduced soil nutrient surpluses, the impact on water quality is yet to be seen. It is shown that this lack of response for nitrogen, and nitrate in particular, is partly explained by the lag time that can range from few years to several decades between the reduction of the nitrogen surplus and the impact on water quality. In order to monitor efficiently the impact of policy implementation, especially the Nitrates Directive and the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive, it is recommended to use long term permanent monitoring stations to be able to separate the impact of climate variability from that of policy implementation on water quality. It is also recommended to investigate and develop harmonized methodologies for estimating the lag time in order to come up with realistic estimates of response time of water bodies due to the implementation of measures.
JRC Directorate:Sustainable Resources

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