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Mar Pollut Bull. 2005;51(1-4):212-7. Epub 2004 Nov 11.

Using nitrogen stable isotope ratios (delta 15N) of macroalgae to determine the effectiveness of sewage upgrades: changes in the extent of sewage plumes over four years in Moreton Bay, Australia.

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National Research Centre for Environmental Toxicology, University of Queensland, 39 Kessels Road, Coopers Plains, QLD 4108, Australia.


Nitrogen loading to aquatic ecosystems from sewage is recognised worldwide as a growing problem. The use of nitrogen stable isotopes as a means of discerning sewage nitrogen in the environment has been used annually by the Ecosystem Health Monitoring Program in Moreton Bay (Australia) since 1997 when the technique was first developed. This ("sewage plume mapping") technique, which measures the delta(15)N isotopic signature of the red macroalga Catenella nipae after incubation in situ, has demonstrated a large reduction in the magnitude and spatial extent of sewage nitrogen within Moreton Bay over the past 5 years. This observed reduction coincides with considerable upgrades to the nitrogen removal efficacy at several sewage treatment plants within the region. This paper describes the observed changes and evaluates whether they can be attributed to the treatment upgrades.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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