Nitrogen speciation and phosphorus fractionation dynamics in a lowland chalk catchment

Christopher A Yates, Penny J Johnes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


A detailed analysis of temporal and spatial trends in nitrogen (N) speciation and phosphorus (P) fractionation in the Wylye, a lowland Chalk sub-catchment of the Hampshire Avon, UK is presented, identifying the sources contributing to nutrient enrichment, and temporal variability in the fractionation of nutrients in transit from headwaters to lower reaches of the river. Samples were collected weekly from ten monitoring stations with daily sampling at three further sites over one year, and monthly inorganic N and total reactive P (TRP) concentrations at three of the ten weekly monitoring stations over a ten year period are also presented. The data indicate significant daily and seasonal variation in nutrient fractionation in the water column, resulting from plant uptake of dissolved organic and inorganic nutrient fractions in the summer months, increased delivery of both N and P from diffuse sources in the autumn to winter period and during high flow events, and lack of dilution of point source discharges to the Wylye from septic tank, small package Sewage Treatment Works (STW) and urban Waste Water Treatment Works (WwTW) during the summer low flow period. Weekly data show that contributing source areas vary along the river with headwater N and P strongly influenced by diffuse inorganic N and particulate P fluxes, and SRP and organic-rich point source contributions from STW and WwTW having a greater influence in the lower reaches. Long-term data show a decrease in TRP concentrations at all three monitoring stations, with the most pronounced decrease occurring downstream from Warminster WwTW, following the introduction of P stripping at the works in 2001. Inorganic N demonstrates no statistically significant change over the ten year period of record in the rural headwaters, but an increase in the lower reaches downstream from the WwTW which may be due to urban expansion in the lower catchment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)466-479
Number of pages14
JournalScience of The Total Environment
Early online date31 Dec 2012
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2013


  • Water quality; Hydrochemistry; Nitrogen; Phosphorus; Hampshire Avon; Waste water treatment


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