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admin | Boot Camp Training Routines | 16.06.2015
Nutrient pollution released to freshwater and coastal areas comes from many diverse sources including agriculture, aquaculture, septic tanks, urban wastewater, urban stormwater runoff, industry, and fossil fuel combustion. From region to region, there are significant variations in the relative importance of nutrient sources.
The rapidly changing nature of raising livestock over the last century has also contributed to a sharp increase in nutrient levels. In China, meat production rose by 127 percent between 1990 and 2002 (FAO 2009a), but fewer than 10 percent of an estimated 14,000 intensive livestock operations have installed pollution controls (Ellis 2007).
Municipal wastewater treatment plants and industrial wastewater discharges, nitrogen leaching from below-ground septic tanks, and stormwater runoff are some of the urban and industrial sources of nutrient pollution.
The most prevalent urban source of nutrient pollution is human sewage, though its importance varies by region and country. For industrial sources of nutrient pollution, certain industries are larger sources than others. A nonpoint source is a discharge that is not regulated (at least not regulated by the Clean Water Act). Don’t waste time or money fertilizing your lawn, and potentially polluting the environment, until you know what you need! Nutrient pollution is the process where too many nutrients, mainly nitrogen and phosphorus, are added to bodies of water and can act like fertilizer, causing excessive growth of algae.
For example, in the United States and the European Union, agricultural sources—commercial fertilizers and animal manure—are typically the primary sources of nutrient pollution in waterways, while urban wastewater is often a primary source of nutrients in coastal waterways of South America, Asia and Africa.
Schematic diagram of the different pathways of nutrient deposition into coastal waters and ensuing processes leading to eutrophication (algal blooms) and hypoxia.


Municipal and industrial sources are considered “point sources” of nutrient pollution because they discharge nutrients directly to surface waters or groundwater via a pipe or other discrete conveyance. Rainfall events flush nutrients from residential lawns and impervious surfaces into nearby rivers and streams. Pulp and paper mills, food and meat processing, agro-industries, and direct discharge of sewage from maritime vessels are some of the larger sources of industrial nutrient pollution.
Point sources are those that are typically permitted or regulated under state National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) programs.
Nonpoint sources are diffuse, that is, they do not have a single point of origin or are not introduced into a receiving stream from a specific outlet.
Excessive amounts of nutrients can lead to more serious problems such as low levels of oxygen dissolved in the water. The excess nutrients are lost through volatilization (when nitrogen vaporizes in the atmosphere in the form of ammonia), surface runoff (Figure 2), and leaching to groundwater.
The latter is considered to be the main source of nitrogen into the Gulf of Mexico (Rabalais 2002). They are typically the most controllable sources of nutrients and are often regulated in developed countries.
Atmospheric deposition of NOx is a significant source of nitrogen to the Yellow Sea which suffers from severe symptoms of eutrophication.
Examples of point sources include human waste and industrial discharges to surface and ground water. Examples of nonpoint source pollution include agriculture, construction activities, and urban runoff.


Scientists are most interested in the nutrients that are related to people living in the coastal zone because human-related inputs are much greater than natural inputs. Frequently, an oversupply of manure means that it is applied to crops more than is necessary, further exacerbating nutrient runoff and leaching. In developing countries, fewer than 35 percent of cities have any form of sewage treatment (UNEP and WHRC 2007), and when sewage is treated, it is typically aimed at removing solids, not nutrients. Coal-fired power plants and exhaust from cars, buses, and trucks are the primary sources of NOx. The law defines point sources as entities such as pipes, ditches, channels, tunnels, wells, containers, concentrated animal feeding operations, and any vessels from which pollutants are or may be discharged. Nitrogen and phosphorus from both point and nonpoint sources contribute to the problem of nitrogen and phosphorus pollution, but the extent to which they contribute to water quality degradation varies by watershed and surrounding land uses. Because there are increasingly more people living in coastal areas, there are more nutrients entering our coastal waters from wastewater treatment facilities, runoff from land in urban areas during rains, and from farming. Fossil fuel combustion contributes approximately 22 teragrams of nitrogen pollution globally every year (Table 2), approximately one-fifth of the contribution of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers (MA 2005).
Irrigated agriculture and agricultural storm water runoff are not considered point sources, though permitted stormwater discharges from many urban areas are categorized as point sources.
If improperly managed, aquaculture operations can have severe impacts on aquatic ecosystems as nutrient wastes are discharged directly into the surrounding waters.



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