Nitrogen and phosphorus are a part of a natural, healthy aquatic ecosystem. They support the growth of underwater plants, which produce oxygen and habitat that supports growth and reproduction of aquatic organisms. Nitrogen and phosphorus also support the growth of algae, a natural part of many aquatic ecosystems.
Too much nitrogen and phosphorus can be dangerous to water environments because it can cause too much plant and algae growth, known as “algae blooms” affecting nearby waterbodies like Lake Greenwood.
Algae blooms can decrease the amount of oxygen in the water (known as hypoxia) which harms the natural habitat. When the algae die, it settles on the bottom of the water bed, when bacteria feed and grow. It can produce toxins, rotten smells and make the water unusable for recreation activities.
In drinking water sources, the growth can also clog intakes, increase corrosion of pipes and make filtration more expensive…all which mean more cost to you!
While treatment plants can remove much of the phosphorus in wastewater, they cannot treat and remove all phosphorus, or account for other uncontrolled sources like septic tanks and lawn fertilizer runoff. The uncontrolled sources – or “non-point sources” – are typically the largest contributors and the most difficult sources to identify and correct. Stormwater is a particular problem source for pollutants entering our waterways.
In addition to managing and treating contaminants, the best way to protect the water environments of the Upstate is to PREVENT excess amounts of nutrients, like nitrogen and phosphorus, from initially getting into them. To do that, we need your help.