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Abstract

A spatiotemporal analysis of nitrogen pollution in a coastal region with mangroves of the Southern Gulf of Mexico.

Abstract

Nitrogen pollution is a growing problem in many rivers and estuaries of the Southern Gulf of Mexico. In Costa Esmeralda, a tourist destination in Veracruz, the increasing nitrogen pollution is causing severe environmental damage. However, very few studies addressed nitrogen pollution and its consequences for beaches and mangroves. In this study, a spatiotemporal evaluation of nitrogen concentrations was performed along two rivers discharging into Costa Esmeralda and the associated mangrove and coastal areas. The data used was obtained from the local government, which measured ammonium, nitrate and organic nitrogen concentrations between 2013 and 2016 with four annual measurements. Clustering analysis was used to detect the nitrogen concentration differences between riverine and coastal sites. Additionally, Mann-Kendall test was used to detect the trends throughout the study period. The Mann-Whitney W-test determined the difference in the median concentrations between the dry and the wet season. The results indicate that organic nitrogen concentrations are increasing in river mouths and coastal waters. Nitrogen pollution caused an intrusion of water hyacinths in touristic beaches and completely covered mangroves. The decomposition of these plants in saline waters was identified as the main potential source of increasing organic concentrations, driven by nitrogen pollution from wastewater, deforestation and fertilizers, and causing many environmental and socio-economic damage to the area. The results shed light on the prevailing water pollution problems in the Southern Gulf of Mexico.