Excess phosphorus causes rapid formation of algal and cyanobacterial blooms, which have readily apparent impacts such as undesirable aesthetics, fish kills, and public health concerns. However, there are also less tangible economic impacts. Researchers from Kansas State estimate that nutrient pollution costs government agencies, treatment facilities, and individual citizens about $4.3 billion per year. This estimate includes immediate economic losses to local businesses and increased restoration costs.
Economic losses due to degraded water quality span many different sectors: real estate, public health, tourism, recreation, restaurant and entertainment, commercial fishing, etc. For example, property values are typically higher on waterfront properties near clean water, and human health can be affected by contact with waters containing algal and cyanobacterial blooms. Increased costs due to mitigation, treatment, and restoration of polluted waters are a long-term burden on the local, state, and federal government agencies.
Water resource planning and installation of practices now to minimize the nutrients currently reaching local waterways will help reduce the direct impacts to local businesses and future mitigation expenditures by local, state and federal agencies
For more information on the economic impacts of excess phosphorus and nutrient loadings in our waterways, check out EPA's Compilation of Cost Data Associated with the Impacts and Control of Nutrient Pollution (EPA820-F-15-096).
About the Author
Maureen A. Schneider
Maureen is passionate about finding effective, efficient, and environmentally sustainable solutions to engineering problems. She has experience in the development of storm water management plans, stream restoration projects, regulatory permit processes, agricultural pollutant reduction program implementation, and other storm water quality improvement projects. Maureen has been with Ruekert & Mielke, Inc. since 2017.