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Modelling phosphorus dynamics in multi-branch river systems: A study of the Black River, Lake Simcoe, Ontario, Canada

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  • Agricultural Science


High rates of nutrient loading from agricultural and urban development have resulted in surface water eutrophication and groundwater contamination in regions of Ontario. In Lake Simcoe (Ontario, Canada), anthropogenic nutrient contributions have contributed to increased algal growth, low hypolimnetic oxygen concentrations, and impaired fish reproduction. An ambitious programme has been initiated to reduce phosphorus loads to the lake, aiming to achieve at least a 40% reduction in phosphorus loads by 2045. Achievement of this target necessitates effective remediation strategies, which will rely upon an improved understanding of controls on nutrient export from tributaries of Lake Simcoe as well as improved understanding of the importance of phosphorus cycling within the lake. In this paper, we describe a new model structure for the integrated dynamic and process-based model INCA-P, which allows fully-distributed applications, suited to branched river networks. We demonstrate application of this model to the Black River, a tributary of Lake Simcoe, and use INCA-P to simulate the fluxes of P entering the lake system, apportion phosphorus among different sources in the catchment, and explore future scenarios of land-use change and nutrient management to identify high priority sites for implementation of watershed best management practises.

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