Cover image for Clean coastal waters : understanding and reducing the effects of nutrient pollution
Clean coastal waters : understanding and reducing the effects of nutrient pollution
National Research Council (U.S.). Committee on the Causes and Management of Coastal Eutrophication.
Publication Information:
Washington, D.C. : National Academy Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
xvi, 405 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
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TD427.N87 N38 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Environmental problems in coastal ecosystems can sometimes be attributed to excess nutrients flowing from upstream watersheds into estuarine settings. This nutrient over-enrichment can result in toxic algal blooms, shellfish poisoning, coral reef destruction, and other harmful outcomes. All U.S. coasts show signs of nutrient over-enrichment, and scientists predict worsening problems in the years ahead.

Clean Coastal Waters explains technical aspects of nutrient over-enrichment and proposes both immediate local action by coastal managers and a longer-term national strategy incorporating policy design, classification of affected sites, law and regulation, coordination, and communication.

Highlighting the Gulf of Mexico's "Dead Zone," the Pfiesteria outbreak in a tributary of Chesapeake Bay, and other cases, the book explains how nutrients work in the environment, why nitrogen is important, how enrichment turns into over-enrichment, and why some environments are especially susceptible. Economic as well as ecological impacts are examined.

In addressing abatement strategies, the committee discusses the importance of monitoring sites, developing useful models of over-enrichment, and setting water quality goals. The book also reviews voluntary programs, mandatory controls, tax incentives, and other policy options for reducing the flow of nutrients from agricultural operations and other sources.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

This excellent review, by a panel of experts on the issues of nutrient over-enrichment in coastal waters, introduces the issues well and is crystal-clear in handling even difficult concepts. Initial chapters present recent data and arguments for the primacy of nutrients, particularly of nitrogen, in determining water quality. Other chapters nicely detail sources and effects, and assess susceptibility. A final section evaluates abatement strategies. The book is well written, accessible to educated lay readers as well as professionals, and surprisingly even, considering that it was the effort of a large committee; much credit must be given the editor. The citations of literature are remarkably up-to-date and cover a very large scope; the citations themselves are a valuable compendium. This is an important book: it provides a synthesis of information and concepts from a remarkable diversity of fields, and gives a contemporary view of our current understanding as well as furnishing the basis for management approaches to eutrophication. This book will be needed by anyone concerned with our coastal waters. All levels. I. Valiela; Boston University

Table of Contents

Executive Summaryp. 1
I Introduction and Overviewp. 11
1 Understanding Nutrient Over-Enrichment: An Introductionp. 13
Nutrient Over-Enrichment in Coastal Watersp. 14
Purpose of This Studyp. 16
Why Is Nutrient Over-Enrichment a Problem?p. 20
2 Combating Nutrient Over-Enrichment: Findings and Recommendationsp. 37
Developing a Nationwide Strategy to Address Nutrient Over-Enrichmentp. 38
A Recommended Approach for Local Managersp. 42
Recommended Federal Actionsp. 51
II Understanding the Problemp. 63
3 Which Nutrients Matter?p. 65
Nitrogen and Phosphorus in Estuaries and Lakesp. 66
Evidence for Nitrogen Limitation in Coastal Marine Ecosystemsp. 67
Mechanisms That Lead to Nitrogen Limitation in Coastal Marine Ecosystemsp. 72
The Importance of Silica and Iron in Coastal Systemsp. 81
4 What Are the Effects of Nutrient Over-Enrichment?p. 84
Ecological Effectsp. 85
Economic Impactsp. 103
5 Sources of Nutrient Inputs to Estuaries and Coastal Watersp. 113
Wastewater and Nonpoint Source Inputsp. 119
Disturbance, Nonpoint Nutrient Fluxes, and Baselines for Nutrient Exports from Pristine Systemsp. 121
Changes in Agricultural Production and Nonpoint Source Nutrient Pollutionp. 124
Processing of Nitrogen and Phosphorus in Wetlands, Streams, and Riversp. 139
Nutrient Fluxes to the Coastp. 141
Insights from the SPARROW Model Applied to the National Scalep. 147
Nutrient Budgets for Specific Estuaries and Coastal Watersp. 150
Oceanic Waters as a Nutrient Source to Estuaries and Coastal Watersp. 156
Implications for Achieving Source Reductionsp. 160
6 What Determines Susceptibility to Nutrient Over-Enrichment?p. 163
Major Factors Influencing Estuarine Susceptibility to Nutrient Over-Enrichmentp. 164
Coastal Classificationp. 176
Geomorphic Classificationp. 177
Hydrodynamic Classificationp. 177
Habitat Classificationp. 178
Hybrid Classificationp. 181
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Ocean Service Classification Schemesp. 182
Next Stepsp. 187
Additional Questionsp. 191
III Understanding Abatement Strategiesp. 195
7 The Role of Monitoring and Modelingp. 197
Introduction to Monitoringp. 201
Elements of an Effective Monitoring Programp. 202
Developing Quantitative Measures of Estuarine Conditionsp. 208
Developing Quantitative Measures of Watershed Conditionsp. 210
Controlling Costsp. 213
Introduction to Modelingp. 214
Watershed Management Modelsp. 225
Estuarine and Coastal Modelsp. 227
Other Relevant Modelsp. 230
Recommendationsp. 233
8 Water Quality Goalsp. 237
Setting Goalsp. 239
Choosing a Policy Approachp. 247
Steps in Developing Effective Water Quality Goalsp. 265
9 Source Reduction and Controlp. 269
Agricultural Sourcesp. 270
Atmospheric Sourcesp. 288
Urban Sourcesp. 293
Other Mitigation Optionsp. 302
Next Steps for Source Reductionp. 308
Referencesp. 311
A Statement of Task and Committee and Staff Biographiesp. 349
B Acronyms and Abbreviationsp. 353
C Programmatic Approaches and Results of a Local Managers Questionnairep. 356
Representative Federal Programsp. 357
Federal Monitoring and Assessment Programsp. 362
Management Strategies Addressing Coastal Eutrophicationp. 368
Results of a Managers Questionnairep. 368
D Model Reviewsp. 376
Watershed Modelsp. 376
Process Modelsp. 377
Spreadsheet Modelsp. 382
Statistical Approachesp. 382
E Estuarine and Coastal Eutrophication Modelsp. 384|-2
Indexp. 395