In order to manage aquatic systems, it is necessary to apply methods relating the environmental variables and system-state parameters with external factors that affect the system. External factors can be natural (i.e. the movement of water) or partly-anthropogenic (i.e. nutrient loads). In addition to the national authorities, who have been implementing environmental policies for several decades, the EU is presently implementing the Water Framework Directive (WFD) aimed at establishing a new set of standards for the ecological and water quality of water systems. Among these are the phytoplankton biomass and composition. Phytoplankton affects turbidity, oxygen depletion, total productivity of the system and the occurrence of (harmful) algal blooms. A range of methods is available to relate phytoplankton to the controlling environmental conditions. Among these are statistical relations for instance of the Vollenweider type as well as deterministic simulation models. At the end of the 1970s, a generic deterministic phytoplankton module called BLOOM was developed, which has since been applied to a wide range of fresh water and marine systems. Here we test the applicability of this model as a screening tool for coastal waters. We conclude that the model is able to reproduce observed chlorophyll levels adequately under a wide range of conditions. Subsequently the model is applied to demonstrate the potential impacts of reductions in nitrogen, phosphorus or both nutrients simultaneously. Depending on which factors are initially controlling, the impacts of these reductions vary considerably both between locations and during the season. While this type of application lacks explicit relations between nutrient concentrations and external loadings, it does consider a number of relevant conditions in a consistent way and requires remarkably little data and effort. It is therefore a valuable screening tool.