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Addition of nutrients, such as nitrogen, can degrade water quality in lakes, rivers, and estuaries. To predict the fate of nutrient inputs, an understanding of the biogeochemical cycling of nutrients is needed. We develop and employ a novel, parsimonious, process-based model of nitrogen concentrations and stable isotopes that quantifies the competing processes of volatilization, uptake, nitrification, and denitrification in nutrient-impacted rivers. Calibration of the model to nitrogen discharges from two wastewater treatment plants in the Grand River, Ontario, Canada show that ammonia volatilization was negligible relative to uptake, nitrification, and denitrification within 5 km of the discharge points.
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