What is Nutrient Pollution?
Nutrient pollution is quickly becoming Teton County, Wyoming’s most widespread, costly, and challenging environmental problem, and is caused by excess nitrogen and phosphorus in water. Nutrient pollution has impacted many streams, rivers, lakes, bays, and coastal waters across the nation for several decades resulting in serious environmental and human health issues, and impacting the economy. Climate change, population growth, and increased development exacerbate the issue of nutrient pollution through warmer waters and more nutrient loads from fertilizer, wastewater, and urban land use.
Nutrient Pollution & Algae
When too much nitrogen and phosphorus enter the environment – usually from a wide range of human activities – water can become polluted. Too much nitrogen and phosphorus in the water causes algae to grow faster than ecosystems can handle. Excess algae, called algal blooms, result in a myriad of negative impacts, including:
- Harm to water quality, food resources and habitats.
- Severely reduced or eliminated oxygen in the water, leading to illnesses and even death in fish and other aquatic life.
- Elevated toxins and bacterial growth that can make people sick if they come into contact with polluted water, consume tainted fish, or drink contaminated water.