Assimilative Capacity

The assimilative capacity of an estuary is the ability of that estuary to remove aquatic contaminants by plant absorption and organism assimilation into body tissues (USEPA 2005). This process can greatly reduce impacts from waste entering the ocean. Decreased quality of freshwater inflows into estuarine areas can cause increased nutrient loading, lowering the ecosystem’s ability to filter contaminants. Nutrient enrichment can cause eutrophication and degraded conditions in estuaries.