Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Too Much of a Good Thing
Phosphorus and nitrogen. Two super star nutrients that give us lush lawns, blue ribbon cucumbers, and roses that make your neighbors jealous.  So what's the deal with EPA trying to limit the amount of these nutrients and going so far as to create numeric standards?? Well, you know how the saying goes: Sometimes too much of a good thing...

Excess nitrogen and phosphorus can cause major algae blooms, introduce toxic cyanobacteria, and create nasty water conditions for humans and wildlife. Since 1998, EPA has assigned the task of developing numeric standards for nutrients. The State of Utah has a nutrient work group comprised of individuals from local, state, and federal agencies. How close is Utah to establishing numeric standards? What does this mean for our water industry?

The Division of Water Quality (DWQ) has been working on establishing acceptable nutrient concentrations, costs & benefits of nutrient criteria, and impacts of nutrient reduction programs. Their current plan includes:
• Nutrient categories to manage site specific concerns 
• Phase-like strategy for nutrient standards 
• State-wide monitoring plan to identify high priority sites 
• Action plans for an entire watershed; including a funding mechanism 
• Water shed scale reduction programs 
Some things to expect in the near future include more regulations addressing these common contributions of nutrient pollution: 
1. Run-off of fertilizers 
2. Animal manure 
3. Sewage treat plant discharges 
4. Storm water runoff 
5. Car and power plant emissions 
6. Failing septic tanks 

Keep numeric nutrient criteria on your radar!

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