New Research to Link Nutrient Sources, Effects, and Controls

Costs and Benefits will Inform Protection of our Sensitive Surface Waters

Fertilization is one of the leading sources of nutrients introduced into the environment.

Excess nutrient loading to water bodies stimulates aquatic growth leading to oxygen depletion and habitat loss.

Nitrogen Cycle in Nature – The nitrogen balance is being altered by human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels and the application of synthetic fertilizers.

(HOLLYWOOD, FL – September 8, 2010) – Growing populations and associated wastewater volumes near sensitive water bodies have prompted stringent nutrient discharge limits in some areas without a full evaluation of the costs of such regulations. These new numerical standards for nitrogen and phosphorus nutrient levels in sensitive water bodies, such as those in Florida or on Cape Cod, have raised the concerns of utilities that may be impacted by such regulations.

Achieving these standards strategically requires a better understanding than we currently have of the linkages between nutrient sources, their predicted and measured adverse effects in receiving waters, and the costs and benefits of source controls, process changes, or removal technologies needed to address them. The Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF) recently awarded Hazen and Sawyer a contract to develop a framework for understanding these linkages.

Hazen and Sawyer’s goal for this project, titled “Linking Receiving Water Impacts to Sources and to Water Quality Management Decisions: Using Nutrients as an Initial Case Study,” is to develop a technically-defensible and robust framework for the assessment of the linkage between nutrient sources (point sources and non-point sources) and water body responses, and how this linkage is influenced by source controls.

The scientific approach or framework developed will build on knowledge gained from current successful management programs and will outline the key components and linkages, identify what is known, what might be missing, and describe the best method for gathering any essential missing data and information to implement successful nutrient source controls. This approach would then be applied to the evaluation of nitrogen impacts to Florida waters to provide a timely and thorough evaluation of these issues using Florida case studies for an initial demonstration of the framework. Subsequently, the developed approach could become a “best practice” for establishing successful nutrient source controls that could help other areas facing a similar situation.

WERF, headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, has been providing independent scientific research on wastewater and stormwater issues since 1989. This nonprofit organization has produced 300 research reports over the past two decades, valued at more than $62 million.

Since our founding in 1951, Hazen and Sawyer has focused on two things: providing safe drinking water and controlling water pollution. Our range of services encompasses the planning, design, and construction management of water and wastewater-related projects – from clean water treatment, storage, and distribution to wastewater and stormwater collection, treatment, and reuse.

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