Introduction to Phosphorus and Water Quality

  • Chad J. Penn
  • James M. Bowen


Phosphorus is introduced at its most basic level: an element on the periodic table and the various forms and abundance in which it exists, as well as its necessity for all biological function, including agricultural production. This chapter serves to lay the foundation and justification for efforts to reduce P loading to surface waters. It describes eutrophication, the major problem caused by excess P in surface waters and describes the resulting negative impact that it has on recreation, drinking water treatment, and ecosystem diversity. The major sources of P to surface waters is discussed, as separated into point and non-point sources, focusing dominantly on non-point sources and describing how such non-point sources came to exist. Examples of non-point urban and agricultural scenarios are given, with some data presented. Within non-point sources, the focus is mostly on “legacy” P in soils since this P source can sustain P transport for several decades.


Eutrophication Phosphorus Non-point source pollution Point source pollution Agriculture Lake Erie Chesapeake Bay Microcystin Dissolved phosphorus Urban nutrients 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chad J. Penn
    • 1
  • James M. Bowen
    • 2
  1. 1.USDA Agricultural Research ServiceNational Soil Erosion Research LaboratoryWest LafayetteUSA
  2. 2.University of KentuckyLexingtonUSA

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