How to use this page: This is an indicator page. Examine this page for detail on the indicator and use that information to establish a metric for the indication of water quality. This is the final step in examining a sustainable community for its environmental attributes, water sub-attributes, nitrogenous compounds sub-sub-attributes. After completing this page, please go back and review other indicators and see discern metrics and weights for the AHD process.

Why is Ammonia-Nitrogen an indicator of Water Quality?

Ammonia-nitrogen is an inorganic, dissolved form of nitrogen that can be found in water and is the preferred form for algae and plant growth.  Ammonia is the most reduced form of nitrogen and is found in water where dissolved oxygen is lacking.  When dissolved oxygen is readily available, bacteria quickly oxidize ammonia to nitrate through a process known as nitrification.  Other types of bacteria produce ammonia as they decompose dead plant and animal matter.  Depending on temperature and pH (a measurement of acidity), high levels of ammonia can be toxic to aquatic life.  High pH and warmer temperatures increase the toxicity of a given ammonia concentration.  High ammonia concentrations can stimulate excessive aquatic production and indicate pollution.  Important sources of ammonia to lakes and streams can include: fertilizers, human and animal wastes, and byproducts from industrial manufacturing processes.  Techniques to prevent high ammonia concentrations involve filtration of runoff water especially from barnyards and other areas where animals may be kept in larger numbers, proper septic system maintenance, and not over-fertilizing yards or fields. 

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Where to go now that you have reviewed an indicator:

Now that you have reviewed an indicator you should create a metric (see Step 4 of the Analytical Hierarchy Processes) that indicates the importance of this indicator in your decision process. Keep this step in mind as you go through one of the other indicators below. Once you have chosen a metric for each of your indicators, you should decide how they collectively measure the sustainability of water by weighting each indicator (see Step 5 of the Analytical Hierarchy Process). These will be applied in an algorithm (see Step 6 of the Analytical Hierarchy Process) to give you the final measurement for Water and Sustainability.

Nitrogenous Compounds : Ammonia Nitrogen

Where you are in the AHD process:

Communities and Sustainability

Back to the Nitrogen Compounds Page

Back to Nitrogen Page

 Other Nitrogen Compound Indicators


Nitrate and Nitrite

Ammonia Nitrogen

Back from where you came

Water Indicators

Other Indicators

Total Phosphorous

Dissolved Oxygen

Total Fecal Coliforms


Back to the Water Page 

The Water Page



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Environment and Sustainability







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Author: Shawn Dayson Shifflett