Indicator Fact Sheet

Source apportionment and loads (riverine and direct) of nutrients to coastal waters

Indicator Fact Sheet
Prod-ID: IND-14-en
  Also known as: WEU 007
This is an old version, kept for reference only.

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This page was archived on 03 Mar 2015 with reason: Other (New version data-and-maps/indicators/nutrients-in-transitional-coastal-and-3/assessment was published)

Assessment made on  01 May 2004

Generic metadata



DPSIR: Pressure


Indicator codes
  • WEU 007

Policy issue:  Are discharges of organic substances and nutrients decreasing?


Key assessment

There were significant reductions in phosphorus discharges to the North Sea from urban wastewater treatment works (UWWT), industry and other sources between 1985 and 2000. The reduction from agriculture has been less marked and this was also the largest source of discharges in 2000. Nitrogen discharges to the North Sea have decreased significantly from all four sources between 1985 and 2000 with agriculture being the major source in 2000. However, some countries, such as Norway, Sweden and UK, reported increases in riverine discharges (and direct discharges for the UK) of nitrogen to the North Sea between 1985 and 2000 whereas the other states reported reductions (North Sea Progress report 2002). Even though the data for the Baltic Sea are less recent (late 1980s to 1995) they give a similar picture for the North Sea with significant reductions in discharges of nitrogen and phosphorus from agriculture, UWWT, industry and aquaculture. In 1995, the major source of phosphorus and nitrogen to the Baltic Sea was UWWT and agriculture, respectively. Regarding point sources, the 50 % HELCOM reduction target was achieved for phosphorus by almost all the Baltic Sea countries, while most countries did not reach the target for nitrogen (HELCOM 2000, ). Information relating to the Black Sea is less comprehensive in terms of source apportionment and how loads have changed with time. In 1996, the most significant sources of phosphorus and nitrogen to the Black Sea were riverine inputs. The major rivers in the Black Sea catchment are the Danube, Dnieper, Don, Southern Bug, and Kuban covering an area of around 2 million km2 and receiving wastewater from more than 100 million people, heavy industries and agriculture areas. The Danube contributes about 65 % of the total nitrogen and phosphorus discharges from all sources.


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