Disaster is Blooming

By Owen Hoff

The Basis of Nutrient Pollution

Too much of the natural nutrients in water like nitrogen and phosphorus causes algae to grow much faster than it's supposed to, creating algal blooms that harm water quality, food resources and habitats, and well as oxygen levels. Heavier rainfalls in the spring in farms and other places that use ground nutrients can run the excess nutrients into rivers and streams, confirmed by Bob Broz, a specialist from the University of Missouri.

How it Effects Us

Nutrient pollution and harmful algal blooms cause major environmental damage as well as serious health problems and diseases in people and animals, like stomach flu or rashes for example. Nutrient pollution and algal blooms also take a toll on the economy, hurting industries and sectors that depend on clean water. Federal, state and local governments spend billions of dollars per year to combat nutrient pollution or prevent its effects. It takes a large toll on our bodies of water, like the Gulf of Mexico. According to an ongoing anaylsis by the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences, an area of oceanic algal blooms increased by one-third between 1995 and 2007. The zone that forms in the Gulf of Mexico each summer varies in size from year to year but averages approximately 5,500 square miles, or roughly the size of the state of Connecticut.