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Strategic management of non-point source pollution from sewage sludge

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


  • S. Burke
  • L. Heathwaite
  • P. Quinn
  • S. Merrett
  • P. Whitehead
  • N. Preedy
  • D. Lerner
  • A. Saul
Journal publication date2003
JournalWater Science and Technology
Number of pages6
Original languageEnglish


In the UK, the recycling of sewage sludge to land is expected to double by 2006 but the security of this route is threatened by environmental concerns and health scares. Strategic investment is needed to ensure sustainable and secure sludge recycling outlets. At present, the security of this landbank for sludge recycling is determined by legislation relating to nutrient rather than potentially toxic elements (PTEs) applications to land--especially the environmental risk linked to soil phosphorus (P) saturation. We believe that not all land has an equal risk of contributing nutrients derived from applications to land to receiving waters. We are currently investigating whether it is possible to minimise nutrient loss by applying sludge to land outside Critical Source Areas (CSAs) regardless of soil P Index status. Research is underway to develop a predictive and spatially-sensitive, semi-distributed model of critical thresholds for sludge application that goes beyond traditional "end-of-pipe" or "edge-of-field" modelling, to include hydrological flow paths and delivery mechanisms to receiving waters from non-point sources at the catchment scale.