Flow responsive passive samplers offer considerable potential in nutrient monitoring in catchments; bridging the gap between the intermittency of grab sampling and the high cost of automated monitoring systems. A commercially available passive sampler was evaluated in a number of river systems encapsulating a gradient in storm response, combinations of diffuse and point source pressures, and levels of phosphorus and nitrogen concentrations. Phosphorus and nitrogen are sequestered to a resin matrix in a permeable cartridge positioned in line with streamflow. A salt tracer dissolves in proportion to advective flow through the cartridge. Multiple deployments of different cartridge types were undertaken and the recovery of P and N compared with the flow-weighted mean concentration (FWMC) from high-resolution bank-side analysers at each site. Results from the passive samplers were variable and largely underestimated the FWMC derived from the bank-side analysers. Laboratory tests using ambient river samples indicated good replication of advective throughflow using pumped water, although this appeared not to be a good analogue of river conditions where flow divergence was possible. Laboratory tests also showed good nutrient retention but not elution and these issues appeared to combine to limit the utility in ambient river systems at the small catchment scale.
Jordan, P., Cassidy, R., Macintosh, K., & Arnscheidt, J. (2013). Field and Laboratory Tests of Flow-Proportional Passive Samplers for Determining Average Phosphorus and Nitrogen Concentration in Rivers. Environmental Science & Technology, 47(5), 2331-2338. https://doi.org/10.1021/es304108e