Nitrogen and phosphorus concentration data representing samples collected once a month for nine months at 13 locations along the Vistula River are considered in a preliminary discussion of the sources of the nutrients transported to the Baltic Sea. Concentrations in relation to flow data indicated substantial differences between subbasins. Based on those differences, on the area-specific nutrient loss for a six-month period and on the wastewater discharge in each subbasin, four regions could be recognized in the river basin: i) the southern region with a large impact of point sources, ii) the south central region, where diffuse sources seemed to be of major importance, iii) the north central region with a combined effect of point and diffuse sources, and retention in two reservoirs, iv) the northern region where point sources seemed to be the dominating source, at least for phosphorus.
Our results illustrate the importance of differences in phosphorus retention between the basins. Long-term retention along the course of the river, particularly in the two reservoirs, must be estimated to allow proper source apportionment in the Vistula basin. Concentration decreases in the Wloclawek Reservoir varied between 44 and 68% for P, and 11 to 37% for N, in the months with significant retention. In some months, however, concentrations increased, indicating a release of nutrients.