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Dissolved inorganic nutrient concentrations and physical-chemical variables were determined in the lower reaches of the Cachoeira River watershed, from November 2003 to October 2004. Concentration of nutrients were high and highly variable. Mean concentrations and standard deviation of ammonium, nitrite, nitrate, phosphate and silicate were 25.4 ± 25.1; 3.9 ± 3.9; 62.2 ± 54.9; 15.8 ± 9.0 and 129.0 ± 5.6 (μmol L-1), respectively. Nutrient retention was observed mainly during the dry season. Chlorophyll-a concentrations were especially high in those periods. The Cachoeira River can be considered eutrophicated, and such condition becomes more intense with low fluvial flow during the dry months. Despite the spatial/temporal changes of the species of inorganic nitrogen, a removal of dissolved inorganic nitrogen was observed in relation to dissolved silicon and to phosphorus, with consequences for estuarine biogeochemistry. The basin exports annually about 3.5, 2.2 and 0.3 t y-1 of dissolved silicon, nitrogen, and phosphate to the estuary, respectively. The eutrophication and growth of macrophytes is responsible for most of these changes in nutrient fluxes to the estuary and coastal waters.
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