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Water quality, nutrients and the water framework directive in an agricultural region: The lower Humber Rivers, northern England

By Colin Neal, Helen Davies and Margaret Neal


The water quality of rivers in the eastern part of the Humber Basin, north-eastern England is described from a baseflow survey (11–13 August 2006) of a wide range of water quality determinants, and long-term nutrient records of the Environment Agency of England and Wales (EA). The baseflow survey shows that the rivers are oversaturated with respect to dissolved CO2 and calcite. They are sodium, potassium, lithium, boron, chloride, sulphate and fluoride bearing from a combination of atmospheric, within-catchment, agricultural and sewage effluent sources. Nitrate concentrations are uniform for rivers draining permeable bedrock but decrease for clay drainage areas. Soluble reactive phosphorus (SRP) concentrations are variable across the catchments reflecting the importance and variability of point sources and within-river processing. The EA data show annual oscillations for both NO3 and SRP concentrations. Average NO3 concentrations vary between 3.3 and 18.8 mgN/l and concentrations are low during the summer months. Average SRP concentrations vary between 23 and 1959 μg/l. Highest SRP concentrations generally occur when there is effluent input from sewage treatment works and agricultural point sources (e.g. overflow from slurry tanks, farmyard washings). Despite many of the rivers being nutrient rich, they are generally of good biological quality when point source inputs are not important

Topics: Ecology and Environment
Year: 2008
DOI identifier: 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2007.10.059
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