Your Subtitle text

Nutrient Contamination

Many ponds and lakes in the Delaware River Watershed experience algae blooms during the summer months. Algae blooms, heavy pond weed growth, and lush shoreline vegetation is the result of excessive nutrient loading. Nitrogen and phosphorus from fertilizer washed off of cropland, lawns and gardens, or from livestock and human waste, enriches water causing aquatic plant growth to explode. Not only is this a nuisance, but reduces the usefulness of ponds and lakes and can be harmful to aquatic life. Blue green algae blooms can produce dangerous toxins and also increases water treatment costs. More information about nutrient contamination in the watershed can be found in the Delaware River WRAPS plan.

What you can do . . . 

  • Use fertilizers wisely -- Fertilizers should be applied at recommended rates based on a recent soil test. Applying too much is costly and excess fertilizer can be washed into streams.
  • Keep livestock out of streams and riparian areas -- Livestock waste is a major source of nutrients in the watershed. Reduce this impact by feeding livestock and providing water and shade as far away from streams or ponds as possible. Sensitive riparian areas should be fenced off to restrict livestock access. Planting a wide grass buffer strip between livestock lots and nearby streams is another way to protect water quality.
  • Maintain your septic system-- A failing septic system can be significant source of nitrogen, phosphorus, bacteria and other contaminants and pose a serious threat to public health. If your septic system drains directly to a ditch or stream, it is considered a failing system and may be in  violation of county sanitary codes. Regularly pumping septic tanks and performing other routine maintenance on a regular basis is essential to keeping your septic system in good repair.
  • Check out your public wastewater system-- Many residents in the Delaware River Watershed are served by public wastewater systems operated by their city or other municipal authority. Unfortunately, some of these systems are becoming old and outdated. Find out how your wastewater system functions by contacting your local wastewater authority.