Wisconsin recruits new strategy to address phosphorous runoff

November 21, 2014

Phosphorous used in agricultural and industrial applications can cause significant environmental challenges. Researchers explain that the compound is the single biggest contributor to water quality issues in the Bay of Green Bay and Lake Michigan. Several of the Great Lakes have seen a surge in toxic algae blooms, which feed on phosphorous, and can prove poisonous to local wildlife. 

Now, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has enlisted the aid of a new tool to help determine the best means of addressing this issue. By leveraging a software solution, researchers can pinpoint areas most at risk for phosphorous runoff. 

"Instead of maybe looking at an entire farm we can look at those specific areas on the farm," Outagamie County Land Conservationist Greg Baneck told ABC News affiliate WBAY. "We can talk with that land owner and say do you traditionally see erosion problems in those spots? And they say yeah I have an annual gully there. Well that's where we come in we'll work with them." 

By creating a record of the areas most at risk for erosion, DNR officials are able to ensure land owners follow best practices to avoid further phosphorous contamination. Working with local farmers is a key component of the state's water quality improvement plan, and educating land owners on the risks phosphorous poses is crucial to prevent further damage to the state's water resources.

Matt Moroney, deputy secretary of the Department of Natural Resources, is expected to announce a detailed plan in January aimed at addressing the flow of phosphorus that turns lakes green and has contributed to a "dead zone" in Green Bay.

Environmental consultants can assist in efforts to identify the best erosion prevention strategies, and their expertise allows them to effectively inform the public of the best practices to reduce future complications.