The aim of this work is to evaluate and discuss river water quality trends over the last decade in ten watersheds where diffuse pollution represents more than half of the annual load of phosphorus (P) and nitrogen (N). Trend analyses taking into account flow data indicate a significant reduction of total P in eight rivers, of ammonia N in five rivers, of nitrate + nitrite in four rivers, of total filtered N in three rivers and of suspended solids in two rivers. An increase of turbidity was observed in four rivers and, for fecal coliforms, no trends. P decrease can be explained by reduced mineral P inputs on cropped lands related to means such as agro-environmental fertilization plans and addition of phytase in pig and poultry feed. However, for seven of them, median P concentrations remain at least two times greater than the Québec water quality guideline for protection of rivers against eutrophication. Concentrations of other parameters remain problematic in some rivers too. These results indicate the need to continue the efforts for further diffuse pollution reduction. Future work should better quantify actions taken at the watershed scale to reduce diffuse pollution.

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