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Assessment and identification of nitrogen pollution sources in the Cheongmi River with intensive livestock farming areas, Korea

Ryu, Hong-Duck, Kim, Min-Seob, Chung, EuGene, Baek, Un-il, Kim, Sun-Jung, Kim, Deok-Woo, Kim, YongSeok, Lee, Jae-Kwan
Environmental science and pollution research international 2018 v.25 no.14 pp. 13499-13510
ammonium, ammonium nitrogen, excreta, intensive livestock farming, livestock, nitrate nitrogen, nitrates, nitrogen, pollution, river water, rivers, water quality, watersheds, waterways, Korean Peninsula
This study aimed to develop methods for assessing and identifying nitrogen sources in the Cheongmi River, Korea, that has intensive livestock farming areas (ILFA) in its watershed. The assessment focused on the feasibility of the simultaneous use of stable isotopic compositions of ammonium (δ¹⁵NNH₄) and nitrate (δ¹⁵NNO₃) for identifying the main nitrogen pollution sources in the Cheongmi River watershed. Our results suggested that the organic nitrogen (Org-N) to total nitrogen (T-N) ratio could be used as an indicator for assessing the effect of livestock excreta on waterways in ILFA. We observed that the T-N concentration was much more strongly affected by livestock excreta than the T-P concentration in the mainstream of the Cheongmi River. The positive correlation was more significant between δ¹⁵NNH₄ and NH₄-N than that between δ¹⁵NNO₃ and NO₃-N for river water samples. Furthermore, the use of δ¹⁵NNH₄ was more effective than that of δ¹⁵NNO₃ in evaluating nitrogen variations between May and August in the Cheongmi River because the differences in δ¹⁵NNH₄ between May and August were more remarkable compared to those in δ¹⁵NNO₃. Finally, the simultaneous use of δ¹⁵NNH₄ and δ¹⁵NNO₃ showed that the dominant nitrogen source at sites M3, M4, M5, and M6, specifically in May, was livestock excreta in the Cheongmi River. The results of this study could be used for sustainable water quality management in the Cheongmi River watershed.