Impacts of Anthropogenic Land Use Changes on Nutrient Concentrations in Surface Waterbodies: A Review

Madjid Delkash, Furat A.M. Al-Faraj, Miklas Scholz

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


Increased population leads to land use (LU) changes from natural to urban and agricultural LU. These disturbances not only decrease the natural treatment potential but they also worsen surface water quality (SWQ). The aim of this review is to assess studies about impacts of anthropogenic LU changes on levels of nutrient concentrations in surface waterbodies, highlighting the important parameters needed for an integrated simulation. The results reported in the literature are not always fully consistent. These contradictory results can sometimes be explained by field measurements under different climatic conditions, different features of landscapes, air deposition rates on ground surfaces, and groundwater flow interactions with surface water. Integrated modelling has been suggested to overcome these inconsistencies. Physical-based and empirical models are the most popular approaches for LU-SWQ studies. Generally, anthropogenic LU such as agricultural and urban areas usually enhances nutrient concentrations much more than natural lands such as forest and barren. Developing sustainable metropolitan areas instead of rural areas, establishing high-standard wastewater treatment plants, and practicing efficient fertiliser application would ameliorate the poor nutrient conditions in SWQ. Riparian vegetation, grassed swales, and construction of artificial wetlands as buffer zones are the most promising natural water quality control measures.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1800051
JournalClean - Soil, Air, Water
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2018


  • anthropogenic land use planning
  • best management practices
  • fertilizer
  • nitrogen
  • surface water modelling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Pollution


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