What is Eutrophication?

Eutrophication is plant overgrowth in domestic waterways.

green grass on water
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Wastewater contains nitrate and phosphorus which are nutrients that plants need to grow. Usually, nutrients are good things, but growing population density can result in too much of a good thing being deposited into streams, rivers, and other waterways. When this happens, plant life takes over – crowding out the habitats of fish and other aquatic life. As these plants die and rot, they can change water PH and bacterial levels.

To stop eutrophication, wastewater treatment systems need to greatly reduce or eliminate the amount of nitrate and phosphorus which they return to the watershed in their effluent. Governmental agencies set concentration maximums and enforce them through regular testing.

For the most part, nitrate and phosphorus can be reduced below regulatory thresholds through biological processes known as denitrification and mineralization. Advanced wastewater treatment systems use highly concentrated populations of beneficial bacteria to digest nitrate and phosphorus. The former is then released as nitrogen gas and the latter, collects in the tank as part of the sludge.

Even after advanced treatment, trace amounts of nitrate and phosphorus can frequently be found in wastewater effluent. Where mandated, further treatment can completely prevent even these from reaching the watershed.

If you’re in need of a wastewater system that will prevent eutrophication, let’s talk!