In response to concerns regarding the health of streams and receiving waters, the United States Environmental Protection Agency established a total maximum daily load for nitrogen in the Chesapeake Bay watershed for which practices must be in place by 2025 resulting in an expected 25% reduction in load from 2009 levels. The response of total nitrogen (TN) loads delivered to the Bay to nine source reduction and land use change scenarios was estimated using a Spatially Referenced Regression on Watershed Attributes model. The largest predicted reduction in TN load delivered to the Bay was associated with a scenario in which the mass of TN as fertilizer applied to agricultural lands was decreased. A 25% decrease in the mass of TN applied as fertilizer resulted in a predicted reduction in TN loading to the Bay of 11.3%, which was 2.5–5 times greater than the reductions predicted by other scenarios. Eliminating fertilizer application to all agricultural land in the watershed resulted in a predicted reduction in TN load to the Bay of 45%. It was estimated that an approximate 25% reduction in TN loading to the Bay could be achieved by eliminating fertilizer applied to the 7% of subwatersheds contributing the greatest fertilizer-sourced TN loads to the Bay. These results indicate that management strategies aimed at decreasing loading from a small number of subwatersheds may be effective for reducing TN loads to the Bay, and similar analyses are possible in other watersheds.
Miller, M. P., Capel, P. D., García, A. M., & Ator, S. W. (2020). Response of Nitrogen Loading to the Chesapeake Bay to Source Reduction and Land Use Change Scenarios: A SPARROW-Informed Analysis. Journal of the American Water Resources Association, 56(1), 100–112. https://doi.org/10.1111/1752-1688.12807