EPA’s National Lakes Assessment

In a short article recently released by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), results of a national assessment indicated an alarmingly high ratio of lakes within the United States suffer from too much nutrient pollution.  4 in 10 lakes suffered from to much Nitrogen AND Phosphorus.  Key word is AND.  Atrazine levels are persistent in lakes which will hopefully provide credential for an eventual ban.

The full information on the article can be found at: https://www.epa.gov/national-aquatic-resource-survey/nla

Discussion:  While the results may be a bit eye-opening, we don’t think anyone who works within the profession is overly shocked.  Any lake that currently exists or has historically existed within an agricultural watershed is likely to have legacy nutrients bound within the sediment and/or vegetation that can be re-released upon re-suspension or decomposition.  This is specifically likely within northeastern Illinois where agricultural watersheds have slowly transitioned to an urban to semi-urban environment.  While Nitrogen and Phosphorus may slowly be introduced to a new team of urban nutrients, including heavy metals.

It would be even more interesting to see a more robust breakdown of the data by land use, location, watershed size, geography, etc.  The National Aquatic Resource (NAR) Survey data is not available for the latest survey (2007 survey data is available; however) so a thorough review of location based statistics may be forthcoming.

Obviously by now it is common knowledge regarding the hypoxia taking place in the Gulf of Mexico.  Many of the lakes within the Midwest serve as subservient sediment traps for the greater watershed as the streams drain to the Gulf.  The same components that wash into the Mississippi river collectively drain to and from our respective lakes and streams.  With the rich soils found throughout the Midwest and the history of agriculture, the Nitrogen and Phosphorus levels in this area should be anticipated to occur at a higher ratio than nationally.

Additionally another resource for exploring this same concept can be located at: http://americaswatershed.org/reportcard/.  This explores a similar concept focused directly within the Mississippi River Basin level.  The information was also presented at the 2016 Fox River Summit in Burlington, WI.  While there are some signs that are encouraging the overall picture is less than ideal in both instances.  Course correction takes more than professionals and agency staff.  It requires the collective course correction of private landowners and stakeholders alike.  As always education is key and that is what this Blog is here to provide as a resource.

~p0sted by Admin



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