Nitrogen losses in the form of Nitrate (N-NO3) from point and diffuse sources of pollution are recognized to be the leading cause of water body impairment throughout Europe. Implementation of conservation programs is perceived as being crucial for restoring and protecting the good ecological status of freshwater bodies. The success of conservation programs depends on the efficient identification of management solutions with respect to the envisaged environmental and economic objectives. This is a complex task, especially considering that costs and effectiveness of conservation strategies depend on their locations. We applied a multi-objective, spatially explicit analysis tool, the R-SWAT-DM framework, to search for efficient, spatially-targeted solution of Nitrate abatement in the Upper Danube Basin. The Soil Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model served as the nonpoint source pollution estimator for current conditions as well as for scenarios with modified agricultural practices and waste water treatment upgrading. A spatially explicit optimization analysis that considered point and diffuse sources of Nitrate was performed to search for strategies that could achieve largest pollution abatement at minimum cost. The set of optimal spatial conservation strategies identified in the Basin indicated that it could be possible to reduce Nitrate loads by more than 50% while simultaneously provide a higher income.
Water, vol. 8, n° 9, 2016