Assessment of eutrophication in estuaries: Pressure-state-response and nitrogen source apportionment

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A eutrophication assessment method was developed as part of the National Estuarine Eutrophication Assessment (NEEA) Program. The program is designed to improve monitoring and assessment of eutrophication in the estuaries and coastal bays of the United States with the intent to guide management plans and develop analytical and research models and tools for managers. These tools will help guide and improve management success for estuaries and coastal resources. The assessment method, a Pressure-State-Response approach, uses a simple model to determine Pressure and statistical criteria for indicator variables (where applicable) to determine State. The Response determination is mostly heuristic, although research models are being developed to improve that component. The three components are determined individually and then combined into a single rating. Application to several systems in the European Union (E.U.), specifically in Portugal, shows that the method is transferable, and thus is useful for development of management measures in both the Unites States and E.U. This approach identifies and quantifies the key anthropogenic nutrient input sources to estuaries so that management measures can target inputs for maximum effect. Because nitrogen is often the limiting nutrient in estuarine systems, examples of source identification and quantification for nitrogen have been developed for 11 coastal watersheds on the U.S. east coast using the WATERSN model. In general, estuaries in the Northeastern United States receive most of their nitrogen from human sewage, followed by atmospheric deposition. This is in contrast to some watersheds in the Mid-Atlantic (Chesapeake Bay) and South Atlantic (Pamlico Sound), which receive most of their nitrogen from agricultural runoff. Source identification is important for implementing effective management measures that should be monitored for success using assessment methods, as described herein. For instance, these results suggest that Northeastern estuaries would likely benefit most from improved sewage treatment, where as the Mid and South Atlantic systems would benefit most from agricultural runoff reductions.
Original languageUnknown
Pages (from-to)678-690
JournalEnvironmental Management
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2007

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