Nitrogen in Runoff from Residential Roads in a Coastal Area
Non-point sources of nitrogen (N) contribute to pollution of many coastal waters. Road runoff of N has been estimated for busy highways, but residential roads could also be important non-point sources. Here we estimate N in runoff from two small residential roads (average annual daily traffic [AADT] <1,000) and a state highway (AADT = 8,800) in a coastal watershed of Massachusetts, USA. The antecedent dry-day traffic was correlated with total dissolved nitrogen (TDN) concentrations at the beginning of each rain event for the highway, but not for the residential roads. The TDN concentrations declined exponentially with cumulative precipitation during storms. Estimated annual road runoff is about 10 kg TDN-N ha−1 of road surface for all three roads, which is about twice the bulk precipitation input. Because much of this road runoff enters sensitive coast water bodies directly, these inputs could be important for local water quality concerns.
KeywordsCape Cod Eutrophication Nitrogen cycle Road runoff Vehicle exhaust
We thank Tom Stone and Ekaterina Bulygina of The Woods Hole Research Center for advice on paved surface area and for laboratory analyses, respectively. We thank the Sea Grant Program at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (NOAA Grant Nos. NA16RG2273 and NA06OAR4170021) for financial support.
- Bettez, N. D. (2009). Impacts of chronic low level nitrogen deposition along a roadside deposition gradient on forest and estuarine N loading. Ph.D. Dissertation, Cornell University, 93 pp.Google Scholar
- Bricker, S. B., Clement, C. G., Pirhalla, D. E., Orland, S. P., & Farrow, D. G. G. (1999). National estuarine eutrophication assessment: A summary of conditions, historical trends, and future outlook. National Ocean Service. Silver Springs: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.Google Scholar
- Cape Cod Commission (2005). Traffic counting report. http://www.gocapecod.org/counts.
- Cape Cod Commission (2007). Regional transportation plan. http://www.gocapecod.org/rtp/.
- Environmental Protection Agency (2001). National Coastal Condition Report. EPA-620/R-01/005, Office of Research and Development and Office of Water. Washington, DC: U. S. Environmental Protection Agency.Google Scholar
- Howarth, R. W., Anderson, D., Cloern, J., Elfring, C., Hopkinson, C., Lapointe, B., et al. (2000). Nutrient pollution of coastal rivers, bays, and seas. Issues in Ecology, 7, 1–15.Google Scholar
- Howarth, R. W., Boyer, E. W., Pabich, W. J., & Galloway, J. N. (2002a). Nitrogen use in the United States from 1961–200 and potential future trends. Ambio, 31, 88–96.Google Scholar
- Howarth, R. W., Ramakrishna, K., Choi, E., Elmgren, R., Martinelli, L., Mendoza, A., et al. (2005). Ecosystems and human well-being, volume 3, policy responses, the millennium ecosystem assessment. Nutrient management, responses assessment (pp. 295–311). Washington, DC: Island Press.Google Scholar
- Nixon, S. W. (1995). Coastal marine eutrophication: A definition, social causes, and future concerns. Ophelia, 41, 199–219.Google Scholar
- NRC (1993). Managing wastewater in coastal urban areas. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
- NRC (2000). Clean coastal waters: Understanding and reducing the effects of nutrient pollution. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.Google Scholar
- Pew Oceans Commission (2003). America’s living oceans: Charting a course for sea change. Washington, DC: Pew Charitable Trust.Google Scholar
- Rabalais, N. N. (2002). Nitrogen in aquatic ecosystems. Ambio, 31, 102–112.Google Scholar