Smart Nutrient Retention Networks: a 21st Century approach for nutrient conservation through water quality management

Activity: Talk or presentationAcademic


With ongoing world population growth and unsustainable resource use, a shortage of resources is more and more threatening in
the 21st Century. Nutrients are a special case because they are essential resources for food production but also seem to inevitably
pollute inland waters. Moreover, they are transported through catchments and eventually lost into the oceans where they become
unavailable for human use. Nutrient conservation by retention in surface waters and consecutive harvest and reuse would prevent
nutrient losses to the atmosphere and downstream ecosystems. We present Smart Nutrient Retention Networks (SNRNs) as
a novel management approach to achieve nutrient conservation across networks of connected waterbodies through strategic
water quality management. In this approach, we focus on the self-reinforcing feedback loop of ecological water quality, nutrient
retention, and nutrient loading in hydrological networks whilst considering socio-economic conditions and goals. We believe
that Smart Nutrient Retention Networks can be one component of a sustainable and just future as they are designed around
biogeochemical nutrient cycling processes and contribute directly to at least 3 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): zero
hunger (SDG 2), clean water and sanitation (SDG 6), and responsible consumption and production (SDG 12).
Period07 Aug 202210 Aug 2022
Degree of RecognitionInternational