WHAT ARE PHOSPHATES?
Phosphates are nutrients that are essential to plant and animal growth and metabolic reactions and is a natural element in soil, fertilizer, detergents, animal waste, and sewage.
WHY IS IT TO MEASURE AND UNDERSTAND PHOSPHATES FOR THE HEALTH OF OUR WATERSHEDS?
Excess phosphorus in surface water may contribute to eutrophication (nutrient enrichment) of surface water, particularly lakes and reservoirs. Nutrient enrichment can overstimulate algal production creating algal blooms that may reduce the aesthetic and recreational value of the water, create taste-and-odor problems in drinking water, and, in severe cases, stress or kill aquatic organisms as a result of dissolved oxygen depletion or the release of toxins when algal blooms die (Sharpley, 1995).
Humans have substantial impacts on the amount of phosphates in the watershed. The majority of nitrogen and phosphorus pollution comes from sewage treatment plants, animal feed lots, and polluted runoff from crop land, urban, and suburban areas. In addition, air pollution (from vehicle exhaust) and industrial sources such as power plants contribute roughly 1/3 of the nitrogen pollution.