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Nutrient enrichment may have obvious, subtle or no biological impact on the aquatic environment, depending on the influence of a number of physical, chemical and biotic factors. This influence is never more difficult to predict than in the dynamic and variable estuarine ecosystem. The complexity of estuaries hinders a clear understanding of cause and effect. This, in turn, makes it difficult for the Environment Agency and English Nature to manage estuarine water quality and conservation status, as required by EC Directives on Urban Waste Water Treatment, Nitrates and Habitats and other elements of the regulatory fiarnework.
The Environment Agency and English Nature commissioned this review of literature and expert opinion on the impact of nutrients in estuaries as an important step towards delivering the sound scientific foundations on which effective management strategies must be based.