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Sci Total Environ. 2005 May 15;344(1-3):51-65. Epub 2005 Apr 7.

Dissolved and particulate nutrient export from rural catchments: a case study from Luxembourg.

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1
CRP-Gabriel Lippmann, 162A, av. de la Faïencerie, L-1511 Luxembourg, Grand-duchy of Luxembourg. salvia@crpgl.lu

Abstract

Nutrient enrichment of freshwaters continues to be one of the most serious problems facing the management of surface waters. Effective remediation/conservation measures require accurate qualitative and quantitative knowledge of nutrient sources, transport mechanisms, transformations and annual dynamics of different nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) forms. In this paper, nitrate (NO3-N), soluble reactive phosphorus (SRP) and total phosphorus (TP) concentrations and loads are presented for two adjacent rural basins of 306 km2 and 424 km2, and for five sub-basins differing in size (between 1 km2 and 33 km2), land use (extent of forest cover between 20% and 93%) and household pressure (from 0 to 40 people/km2) with the aim of studying the influence of land use and catchment size on nutrient exports. The studied catchments are all situated on Devonian schistous substrates in the Ardennes region (Belgium-Luxembourg), and therefore have similar hydrological regimes. As the study period could not be the same for all basins, annual export coefficients were corrected with the 25 years normalized discharge of the Sure River: two regression analyses (for dry and humid periods) relating monthly nutrient loads to monthly runoff were used to determine correction factors to be applied to each parameter and each basin. This procedure allows for the comparing annual export coefficients from basins sampled in different years. Results show a marked seasonal response and a large variability of NO3-N export loads between forested (4 kg N ha-1 year-1), agricultural (27-33 kg N ha-1 year-1) and mixed catchments (17-22 kg N ha-1 year-1). For SRP and TP, no significant agricultural impact was found. Land and bank erosion control the total P massflow in the studied catchments (0.4-1.3 kg P ha-1 year-1), which is mostly in a particulate form, detached and transported during storm events. Soluble reactive P fluxes ranged between 10% and 30% of the TP mass, depending on the importance of point sources in the basins studied. No relation was found between the size of the basins and the export of nitrate, SRP or TP. Nutrient export, specially for NO3-N and TP, shows significant inter-annual variations, closely linked to inter-annual discharge variations. Flow and load frequency data analysis confirm this association for all the basins on an annual basis. Seasonal or storm specific fluxes strongly deviate from their annual values.

PMID:
15907510
DOI:
10.1016/j.scitotenv.2005.02.005
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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