Sustainability trajectories for urban waters

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Date of Original Version



Improving sustainability trajectories related to the biological health of urban waters requires enhancing the effectiveness of US nitrogen control programs for watersheds, cities, and ocean waters. A trajectory consists of identification of sustainability values, use of science to identify alternative solutions, selection of means for change, and assessment of results. Nitrogen, a limiting nutrient in most marine waters, contributes to algal blooms, declining levels of dissolved oxygen, and changes in biodiversity when it is present in bioavailable and excess amounts. Left unchecked nitrogen enrichment results in a regional trajectory trending away from biological sustainability. Its impacts have been observed on local, national, and global scales. The sustainability trajectory framework provides a novel way to view success or failure by clarifying values promoted and the means to reach them. Sequences of decisions related to nitrogen enrichment of New York Bight, Narragansett Bay, and Chesapeake Bay show that positive ecological trajectories rely upon the linkage of sustainability targets to authoritative governance techniques.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Sustainability Science: The Emerging Paradigm and the Urban Environment