A conceptual framework is presented for optimizing the operation of regional monitoring networks which assist water quality management. The primary objective of the studied network is to determine the annual nutrient load carried into a lake by its tributaries. Following the description of the basic (single time–period, single water quality indicator) model, several extension possibilities and computational aspects are highlighted. The suggested methodology is illustrated by a numerical example, concerning the surveillance system on the tributaries of Lake Balaton (Hungary).

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