Increased human habitation has led to a 30 to 50-fold increase in nutrient loads to the coastal waters of Adelaide, resulting in the loss of over 5000ha of seagrass meadows. The rate of loss since the 1940s has been irregular, averaging 85hayr -1, marked by a substantial peak between 1971 and 1977. A modelling approach allowed comparison of the annual input with the annual uptake rates for the different biotic components in the seagrass bed. In 2005, the estimated uptake of ammonium (465tyr -1) and nitrate (3.04tyr -1) by the seagrass and associated epiphytes in the Adelaide region accounted for 31% of the ammonium and <1% of the nitrate that is currently discharged into the coastal waters. Environment Improvement Programs, such as the one implemented in 1996, may reduce the total nitrogen loads to 700tyr -1, possibly stemming further losses and facilitating recolonisation of new seagrass.