Ohio proposes phosphorus limits in waterways
Ohio could soon introduce limits on phosphorus pollution, which fuels the growth of toxic algae in lakes. Under a new proposal that is currently being reviewed by federal officials at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), wastewater treatment plants that process farm and sewage wastewater would have to restrict the level of phosphorus and nitrogen in effluent they discharge into waterways.
Both chemicals can be found in fertilizers, manure and sewage and are considered major pollutants for water bodies in the United States because they contribute to algae growth. On the one hand, algae consume oxygen and put aquatic life at risk, while on the other, the toxins they produce can affect people and animals that have contact with the water.
RELATED: Oshkosh, Wis., ordered to reduce phosphorus discharges from wastewater plant
Scott Nally, Ohio EPA director, is optimistic that federal EPA officials will approve the proposal and the state will be able to set specific limits for each stream, the Columbus Dispatch reported. If this happens, Ohio will become the third state after Florida and Wisconsin to introduce limits for nitrogen and phosphorus in bodies of water.
Wisconsin set its limits three years ago after environmental groups threatened to take legal action, and Florida followed a year later over similar concerns. In Wisconsin, the highest permissible amount of phosphorus in rivers is 100 parts per billion, while in smaller creeks the concentration should not exceed 75 parts per billion, according to Amanda Minks at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.