Global nitrogen and phosphate in urban wastewater for the period 1970 to 2050

G. van Drecht, A.F. Bouwman, J. Harrison, J.M. Knoop

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250 Citations (Scopus)


This paper presents estimates for global N and P emissions from sewage for the period 1970-2050 for the four Millennium Ecosystem Assessment scenarios. Using country-specific projections for population and economic growth, urbanization, development of sewage systems, and wastewater treatment installations, a rapid increase in global sewage emissions is predicted, from 6.4 Tg of N and 1.3 Tg of P per year in 2000 to 12.0-15.5 Tg of N and 2.4-3.1 Tg of P per year in 2050. While North America (strong increase), Oceania (moderate increase), Europe (decrease), and North Asia (decrease) show contrasting developments, in the developing countries, sewage N and P discharge will likely increase by a factor of 2.5 to 3.5 between 2000 and 2050. This is a combined effect of increasing population, urbanization, and development of sewage systems. Even in optimistic scenarios for the development of wastewater treatment systems, global N and P flows are not likely to decline
Original languageEnglish
Article numberGB0A03
Number of pages19
JournalGlobal Biogeochemical Cycles
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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  • consequences


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