Evaluating nutrient impacts in urban watersheds: Challenges and research opportunities

Richard O. Carey, George J. Hochmuth, Christopher J. Martinez, Treavor H. Boyer, Michael D. Dukes, Gurpal S. Toor, John L. Cisar

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

156 Scopus citations


This literature review focuses on the prevalence of nitrogen and phosphorus in urban environments and the complex relationships between land use and water quality. Extensive research in urban watersheds has broadened our knowledge about point and non-point pollutant sources, but the fate of nutrients is not completely understood. For example, it is not known how long-term nutrient cycling processes in turfgrass landscapes influence nitrogen retention rates or the relative atmospheric contribution to urban nitrogen exports. The effect of prolonged reclaimed water irrigation is also unknown. Stable isotopes have been used to trace pollutants, but distinguishing sources (e.g.; fertilizers, wastewater, etc.) can be difficult. Identifying pollutant sources may aid our understanding of harmful algal blooms because the extent of the relationship between urban nutrient sources and algal blooms is unclear. Further research on the delivery and fate of nutrients within urban watersheds is needed to address manageable water quality impacts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)138-149
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
StatePublished - Feb 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Isotopic analyses
  • Non-point source
  • Point source
  • Reclaimed water
  • Septic systems
  • Stormwater
  • Wastewater treatment facilities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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