High-frequency monitoring reveals nutrient sources and transport processes in an agriculture-dominated lowland water system

B. van der Grift, H. P. Broers, W. L. Berendrecht, J. C. Rozemeijer, L. A. Osté, J. Griffioen
2015 Hydrology and Earth System Sciences Discussions  
Many agriculture-dominated lowland water systems worldwide suffer from eutrophication caused by high nutrient loads. Insight in the hydrochemical functioning of embanked polder catchments is highly relevant for improving the water quality in such areas. This paper introduces new insights in nutrient sources and transport processes in a low elevated polder in the Netherlands using high-frequency monitoring technology at the outlet, where the water is pumped into a higher situated lake, combined
more » ... ted lake, combined with a low-frequency water quality monitoring program at six locations within the drainage area. Seasonal trends and short scale temporal dynamics in concentrations indicated that the NO<sub>3</sub> concentration at the pumping station originated from N-loss from agricultural lands. The NO<sub>3</sub> loads appear as losses with drain water discharge after intensive rainfall events during the winter months due to preferential flow through the cracked clay soil. Transfer function-noise modelling of hourly NO<sub>3</sub> concentrations reveals that a large part of the dynamics in NO<sub>3</sub> concentrations during the winter months can be related to rainfall. The total phosphorus (TP) concentration almost doubled during operation of the pumping station which points to resuspension of particulate P from channel bed sediments induced by changes in water flow due to pumping. Rainfall events that caused peaks in NO<sub>3</sub> concentrations did not results in TP concentration peaks. The by rainfall induced and NO<sub>3</sub> enriched quick interflow, may also be enriched in TP but this is then buffered in the water system due to sedimentation of particulate P. Increased TP concentrations associated with run-off events is only observed during a rainfall event at the end of a freeze–thaw cycle. All these observations suggest that the P retention potential of polder water systems is highly due to the artificial pumping regime that buffers high flows. As the TP concentration is affected by operation of the pumping station, timing of sampling relative to the operating hours of the pumping station should be accounted for when calculating P export loads, determining trends in water quality or when judging water quality status of polder water systems.
doi:10.5194/hessd-12-8337-2015 fatcat:rztxhlyoczc7foz6dlwajnwfim