Nitrate transport in Chalk catchments: monitoring, modelling and policy implications
Jackson, B. M., Browne, C. A., Butler, A. P., Peach, D., Wade, A. J. and Wheater, H. S. (2008) Nitrate transport in Chalk catchments: monitoring, modelling and policy implications. Environmental Science & Policy, 11 (2). pp. 125-135. ISSN 1462-9011
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1016/j.envsci.2007.10.006
Rising nitrate levels have been observed in UK Chalk catchments in recent decades, with concentrations now approaching or exceeding legislated maximum values in many areas. In response, strategies seeking to contain concentrations through appropriate land management are now in place. However, there is an increasing consensus that Chalk systems, a predominant landscape type over England and indeed northwest Europe, can retard decades of prior nitrate loading within their deep unsaturated zones. Current levels may not fully reflect the long-term impact of present-day practices, and stringent land management controls may not be enough to avert further medium-term rises. This paper discusses these issues in the context of the EU Water Framework Directive, drawing on data from recent experimental work and a new model (INCA-Chalk) that allows the impacts of different land use management practices to be explored. Results strongly imply that timelines for water quality improvement demanded by the Water Framework directive are not realistic for the Chalk, and give an indication of time-scales over which improvements might be achieved. However, important unresolved scientific issues remain, and further monitoring and targeted data collection is recommended to reduce prediction uncertainties and allow cost effective strategies for mitigation to be designed and implemented. (C) 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.