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Hydromorphological control of phosphorus in a large free-flowing gravel bed river: the Garonne river (France)

Bonvallet-Garay, Sonia and Sauvage, Sabine and Vervier, Philippe Hydromorphological control of phosphorus in a large free-flowing gravel bed river: the Garonne river (France). (2001) River Research and Applications, vol. 17 (n°4-5). pp. 461-472. ISSN 1535-1459

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/rrr.662


The objective of this paper is to relate phosphorus (P) transport dynamics and hydromorphological characteristics of a large human-influenced river, the River Garonne within a sector receiving the waste water of a sewage treatment plant for a population of 600 000. Two studies were conducted in 1997 and 1999 during two different hydrological conditions at low-flow periods. The 1997 study was carried out on an 18-km stretch with discharges varying between 33 and 53 m3/s and with very small fluctuations. The 1999 study concerned a longer stretch of 47 km, divided into four smaller reaches, and with discharges fluctuating rapidly from 40 to 108 m3/s. Downstream of the sewage treatment plant, total phosphorus (TP) concentrations ranged from 0.19 to 0.27 mg/L and were mainly in the dissolved form: between 60 and 78% of TP was dissolved reactive phosphorus (DRP). P concentrations were significantly lower upstream of the sewage treatment plant. By a mass-balance approach, we estimated that the sewage treatment plant represents more than half the input (between 59 and 67%) of the studied sector. TP dynamic is linked to suspended solids for discharges above 60 m3/s. During established low-flow period in the 1997 study (<60 m3/s), 22 and 27% of TP and DRP were retained by the river bed. In the 1999 study, under different low-water period hydraulic conditions, we calculate that particulate P retention occurred in two reaches among the four under study and only for discharges below 60 m3/s. We show that for established discharges below 60 m3/s, there is an active uptake of transported P by functional compartments (i.e. the hyporheic zone and the periphyton). During the low-water period with relatively high hydraulic fluctuations, and for discharges >60 m3/s, P retention is controlled as expected by suspended matter dynamics.

Item Type:Article
Audience (journal):International peer-reviewed journal
Uncontrolled Keywords:
Institution:French research institutions > Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - CNRS
Université de Toulouse > Université Paul Sabatier-Toulouse III - UPS
Laboratory name:
Deposited By:Nadia Kelmouss

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