Reversal of acidification in tributaries of the River Duddon (English Lake District) between 1970 and 1998

Tipping, E., Bettney, R., Hurley, Margaret Anne orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-2502-432X, Isgren, F., James, J.B., Lawlor, A.J., Lofts, S., Rigg, E., Simon, B.M. et al (2000) Reversal of acidification in tributaries of the River Duddon (English Lake District) between 1970 and 1998. Environmental Pollution, 109 (2). pp. 183-191. ISSN 0269-7491

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Long-term changes in stream water chemistry in the upper Duddon catchment (southwest Lake District, UK) were investigated. Ten streams were sampled and analysed weekly during 1998, and the results compared with data for the early 1970s and 1986. The waters exhibited a range of pH, average values for 1998 being 5.04–7.04. For all the streams, the average pH in 1998 was greater than that during 1971–73. Statistical analysis was carried out, using the 1970s data to estimate the magnitude of inter-annual variation, and taking discharge into account on the basis of antecedent rainfall. The results showed that for two of the streams the pH increase was significant at the 2.5% level, while for a further three it was significant at the 10% level. Comparison of the 1998 concentrations of nitrate and non-marine sulphate with data obtained for five streams in 1973–74 showed that average nitrate concentration had increased from 11 to 20 μeq dm−3 while that of non-marine sulphate had decreased from 94 to 50 μeq dm−3. For four of the streams, comparisons were also made between the 1998 data and those for 1986. In three cases, pH in 1998 was generally higher, and Al generally lower, than the values for 1986, but in the fourth case little difference was evident. The present results support observations for five nearby standing waters, strengthening the evidence for a general reversal of acidification in the southwest part of Lake District, due to a decline in the deposition of pollutant sulphur.

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