Changes in nutrient emissions, fluxes and retention in a northeastern European lowland drainage basin

D. S.J. Mourad, M. Van Der Perk, K. Piirimäe

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


Despite dramatic reductions in the 1990s of N and P emissions in the drainage basin, Lake Peipsi/Chudskoe (Estonia/Russia) is still suffering from algal blooms, probably caused by low N:P ratios of the lake water. To quantify the sources and changes of N and P inputs to the lake as a result of economic changes, we modelled emissions, transfer and in-stream retention using a GIS model. The model was calibrated using river monitoring data from the 1985-1999 period, and used to simulate emissions and loads for five future scenarios for 2015-2019. During the 1985-1999 period, diffuse P emissions decreased relatively more than N diffuse emissions, but this was not reflected in the loads to the lake. P loads decreased relatively less than N loads, which caused a decrease in the N:P ratio of the rivers. About 30-45 % of diffuse N emissions and only 3-10 % of diffuse P emissions reaches the river network. In-stream retention reduces N and P loads to the lake by about 62 % and 72 %, respectively. Point sources contribute negligibly to the N load to the lake, but form about one-third of the P load. A target/fast development scenario is the most likely scenario for the 2015-2019 period, resulting in higher nutrient loads than in recent years. We conclude that effective load reductions can be achieved by focussing on diffuse N and P emissions close (< 50 km) to the lake and by upgrading P removal capacity in wastewater treatment plants of towns.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPaterns of nutrient transfer in lowland catchments
Subtitle of host publicationA case study from northeastern Europe
Number of pages29
Publication statusPublished - 2008

Publication series

NameNederlandse Geografische Studies
ISSN (Print)0169-4839


  • Estonia
  • Eutrophication
  • Geographical information systems
  • Lake Peipsi/Chudskoe
  • Nitrogen
  • Phosphorus
  • Russia
  • Scenarios


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