Groundwater discharge is known to transport nutrients into estuaries at several locations around the world. However, few studies report groundwater-associated nutrient fluxes from tropical developing regions such as Southeast Asia, even though this area shows the strongest human modifications in the coastal zone worldwide. We investigated groundwater nutrient flux into two streams and estuaries (Awur and Sekumbu Bay) in the urban area of Jepara, Indonesia, and its relation with the land usage surrounding the estuaries.
We found that average concentrations of NO3, NH4, and PO4 in Jepara's aquifer reached 145 µM, 68 µM, and 14 µM, respectively, and our results indicate that these were mainly originated from untreated sewage, agriculture, and manure input. Approximately 2200 ton N per year and 380 ton P per year were removed in the soil and aquifer before the nutrients were discharged into the river. The total groundwater discharge into the river and estuary was estimated to 461 × 103 m**3/day, or up to 42% of the river discharge. Discharge of groundwater-associated NO3 (72 × 103 mol/day), NH4 (34 × 103 mol/day), PO4 (5 × 103 mol/day), and additional surface runoff may contribute to eutrophication and a decrease of nearshore surface water quality. Nutrient concentrations in groundwater, river, and coastal seawater in the Jepara region are similar to those found in major urban areas in Southeast Asia, e.g. Manila and Bangkok, even though Jepara has smaller size and population. Thus, our results indicate that medium populated cities with highly modified regional land use can contribute a significant amount of nutrient discharge in the coastal area and should be included in global assessments of nutrient budget calculation.
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