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Sources of Nitrite in Streams of an Intensively Cropped Watershed

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The sources of high in-stream nitrite (NO2 ) concentrations were investigated in two major streams located in an intensively cropped watershed in Quebec, Canada. Nitrogen retention was determined to evaluate the dynamics in relation to nitrogen transport along both stream branches during summer-low-water and fall-recharge regimes. In the first stream branch, NO2 and ammonium (NH4 +) showed removal patterns during summer-low-water and fall-recharge periods, whereas, in the second branch, NO2 and NH4 + exports occurred during both hydrologic regimes. The study also demonstrated that seepage water is a source of NO2 in-stream, which varies within the watershed stream branches and with the hydrologic regime. The results highlighted a significant reductive microbial activity in seepage water from either denitrification or dissimilatory nitrate reduction to ammonium (DNRA), leading to nitrate (NO3 ) consumption. Differences in groundwater NO3 concentrations feeding each stream branch may have significantly influenced NH4 + and NO2 concentrations found in seepage water, which potentially resulted in quantitatively significant NO2 formation.

Keywords: nitrite; nitrite accumulation; nitrogen input; nitrogen retention; seepage water

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: July 1, 2010

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  • Water Environment Research® (WER®) publishes peer-reviewed research papers, research notes, state-of-the-art and critical reviews on original, fundamental and applied research in all scientific and technical areas related to water quality, pollution control, and management. An annual Literature Review provides a review of published books and articles on water quality topics from the previous year.

    Published as: Sewage Works Journal, 1928 - 1949; Sewage and Industrial Wastes, 1950 - 1959; Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, 1959 - Oct 1989; Research Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, Nov 1989 - 1991; Water Environment Research, 1992 - present.
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