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The concentrations of nutrients including phosphorus and nitrogen in the waters of the Danube and its larger tributaries are very important from an international point of view, because they are directly responsible for eutrophication processes within the river and in the Black Sea. Indications exist that the nutrient concentrations along River Danube today are substantially higher than the natural background levels.

The key nutrients affecting the Danube ecosystems and leading to eutrophication processes are phosphorus and nitrogen, both of which enter the river basin from point sources such as municipal, industrial and agricultural facilities, as well as diffuse sources throughout the catchment area, where nutrients originate from erosion and surface runoff, groundwater inflow and atmospheric deposition.

Did you know?

The Danube transports - due to its large flow - more nutrients than any other major river in Europe.

A significant share of the nutrients from diffuse sources are of natural origin, but excess nutrients are also widely released due to human activities, notably farming.

What the ICPDR is doing

Modelling Nutrient Emissions
The Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries of Leibniz, Germany, is compiling a harmonised inventory for point and diffuse sources of pollution. The model MONERIS (MOdelling Nutrient Emissions in RIver Systems) has been developed and applied in the Danube River Basin to estimate nutrient emissions into surface waters from point and various diffuse sources. The total nutrient input into the Danube River Basin amounts to 68,000 tP/a and 758,000 tN/a.

Working area:

Graphic: Total nutrient inputs into the Danube by their input pathways

While point source emissions from wastewater treatment plants and industrial sources are discharged directly into the rivers, the diffuse source emissions that end up in surface waters have many different pathways.

About half of the nutrients discharged into the river are from agricultural sources, a quarter from industrial sources, and a similar proportion from settlements. The main pollution sources in addition to industrial and municipal wastewater include chemical fertilisers and manure from intensive farming operations, petrochemical processing plants, iron and metal processing plants, timber, paper and pulp plants, and municipal solid waste disposal sites.



The information contained in the ICPDR website is intended to enhance public access to information about the ICPDR and the Danube River. The information is correct to the best of the knowledge of the ICPDR Secretariat. If errors are brought to our attention we will try to correct them.
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Last Edit: 2006-03-03