Processing Magazine

Wisconsin to expand list of water bodies under phosphorus pollution threat

February 20, 2014

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The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is planning to expand its list of bodies of water under threat of long-term harm due to excessive amounts of phosphorus, which fuels toxic algae growth.

The DNR is considering adding a further 192 affected bodies of water to its biannually updated Impaired Waters List, which is required by states under the federal Clean Water Act. There are currently more than 700 bodies of water that do not meet the state water standards, Wisconsin DNR officials told the Associated Press. Adding them to the list might have a positive effect on the bodies of water because oversight and control has helped to reduce phosphorus pollution in about three-quarters of the listed rivers, lakes and streams, officials claimed.

RELATED: Ohio proposes phosphorus limits in waterways

Increased levels of phosphorus in waterways is a serious problem not just for Wisconsin but for the United States as a whole because it fuels algae bloom that in turn can cause long-term damage to water ecosystems. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires states to publish their lists of impaired waters so that public input can be provided and the agency reviews the lists itself before approving them. In 2012, when Wisconsin last updated its list, the EPA asked the DNR to add over 100 more bodies of water that failed to meet standards, accusing the state of not complying with its own rules.