What is eutrophication?Eutrophication is the increase of the nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium) in the soil, water and air whereby ecological processes and natural cycles are disturbed. The use of fertilizers, discharges of waste water, combustion processes and the dumping of household waste and water treatment slurry result in eutrophying emissions.
Impact to man and environmentEutrophication can have local, regional and global consequences.
- Locally eutrophication results in increased nitrate and phosphate concentrations in the surface water and groundwater and consequently to pollution of the drinking water stocks, a deterioration of biodiversity in (nature) regions and possibly to a deterioration in the quality of food crops (and their effect on public health).
- Regionally eutrophication of fresh and salt water occurs. In other words the water is enriched with nutrients, which has a negative effect on aquatic life. Plants like algae will develop explosively which means less light can permeate into the water and some anaerobic bacteria become more active. As a result some fish and other organisms can no longer continue to survive.
- Globally the emissions of nitrous oxide increases which is an important greenhouse gas.
The links between emissions, concentrations, depositions and consequences to man, nature and economy are especially complex for nitrogen due to the many conversions that may occur. These conversions cause delays, whereby the effects of some measures cannot be measured directly.