The bioavailability of phosphorus from different sources has been evaluated in the catchment area of the River Ilmenau (Lower-Saxony, Germany) by using algal assays. The P bioavailability describes the different potential of P from various sources of supporting eutrophication. Effluents from sewage treatment plants were highly bioavailable (72% of TP) whereas rainwater (26%) and erosion effluents (30%) showed a low bioavailability. In order to develop effective strategies to minimize P inputs into the river, source specific P bioavailability indices were determined and combined with a P balance to calculate inputs of vioavailable P (BAP) instead of total P (TP). It could be shown that the relative importance of the different P sources changes when applying BAP. Measures to reduce P inputs into the River Ilmenau will take P bioavailability into consideration and therefore lead to a more cost-effective management.

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