In some instances, it’s not what is on the surface that’s important, but what impact the underlying effects have on a situation. In Kentucky, farming is a big part of most communities. Many of these farming communities use fertilizer and other forms of phosphorus and nitrogen to ensure profitable crops.
In an age where the water and wastewater industry is being held responsible for nutrients being released into the environment and introduced at the tap, farm runoff remains a major contributor to nutrient pollution in lakes, rivers, streams and other water sources. Eutrophication, the enrichment of an ecosystem with nutrients including nitrogen, phosphorus or both, have been on the rise and cause anoxic zones in many water bodies. Although wastewater facilities have been labeled a major contributor to the eutrophication issue, many would argue that the farming community is the biggest contributor. Many farms in Kentucky spread animal waste and may not ensure that it’s done at the proper concentrations or participate in nutrient management programs. When precipitation occurs, the excess nutrients end up in water systems and, more importantly for the community, source waters and wastewater receiving streams.
In the following article, one city has taken a different approach to not only hold the farming community to a standard, but also attaching a dollar value to it. Nutrient removal is one of the hidden costs in the treatment process that many systems have not accounted for. The case in Iowa will raise awareness and have many in the water community either following suit or at least researching ways to determine how much the phosphorus removal contributes to the bottom line and how to offset the costs.