Eutrophication in Streams

Like many urban streams in the United States, Sugartree Creek suffers from high nutrient levels, specifically, Nitrogen and Phosphorous. In Green Hills, these nutrients can be directly traced back to stormwater runoff that travels across parking lots or fertilized lawns, taking with it chemicals, bacteria and whatever else resides on the surface. Once introduced into a stream, high levels of N or P can cause algal blooms which block out sunlight and deplete the water of its oxygen supply, smothering plant life. This process is called eutrophication. Not only is this harmful to native flora and fauna, it’s also an eye sore that degrades recreational uses within the water body. Stopping eutrophication can be difficult as there is no single source of pollution, rather, it is the collective pollution of numerous sources. That’s why every action counts when it comes to protecting our water!

Here are some things you can do!

Forgo fertilizing your lawn altogether
If you do fertilize, only use what you NEED! Pay close attention to the label and don’t over-fertilize
Avoid the rain; don’t fertilize right before a rainfall to keep fertilizer out of our water
Plant a rain garden

Capturing stormwater runoff before it reaches streams is an additional technique that can reduce eutrophication of water. A well placed rain garden or bio retention pond view website can capture a great deal of stormwater, by sinking the water into the ground, filtering out pollutants and the nutrients. Adequate riparian buffers and well-placed healthy urban trees can also aid in filtering out.