Many people practice open defecation in south Asia. As a result, lot of human waste containing nutrients such as nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) enter rivers. Rivers transport these nutrients to coastal waters, resulting in marine pollution. This source of nutrient pollution is, however, ignored in many nutrient models. We quantify nutrient export by large rivers to coastal seas of Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, and the associated eutrophication potential in 2000 and 2050. Our new estimates for N and P inputs from human waste are one to two orders of magnitude higher than earlier model calculations. This leads to higher river export of nutrients to coastal seas, increasing the risk of coastal eutrophication potential (ICEP). The newly calculated future ICEP, for instance, Godavori river is 3 times higher than according to earlier studies. Our modeling approach is simple and transparent and can easily be applied to other data-poor basins.
- Coastal water pollution
- Human waste
- Nutrient models, coastal eutrophication
- Open defecation