Water and nutrients are often used unsustainably. Nutrients are valuable resources for food production but excess nutrients also pollute surface waters. For example, they can lead to toxic algal blooms. Also, a large part of these nutrients are transported through surface waters and eventually lost into the deep oceans. Despite attempts to increase nutrient use efficiency on land, nutrient pollution of surface waters appears inevitable and water quality problems persist. In my PhD thesis, I first develop and present the “Smart Nutrient Retention Networks” concept as new water quality management approach that stimulates the sustainable use of nutrients in connected surface waters. Next, I create relatively simple simulation models to support the development of Smart Nutrient Retention Networks. Thereafter, I explore how nutrient retention may influence downstream water quality. Finally, I develop a serious game as a tool to interactively introduce (lake) models and related concepts.