Science / Solution(S) To The Problem Of Eutrophication

Solution(S) To The Problem Of Eutrophication

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Autor:  anton  07 November 2010
Tags:  Solutions,  Problem,  Eutrophication
Words: 2276   |   Pages: 10
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Solution(s) to the Problem of

Waste Contamination in Water - Eutrophication

By Patricia Lopes

The degree of eutrophication in water bodies depends, mostly, on the concentration of nutrients usually phosphorus in the water,. Calculations show that because of the increase of population growth and urbanization, the world input of phosphorus into the rivers will have reached 2.56 million tons per year by the end of the 20th century. Also, an additional 0.6 million tons, are added mainly due to agricultural and livestock farming. The increase of eutrophication is mostly in rivers, lakes, water reservoirs, and coastal marine waters. The world rivers total phosphorus concentration has increased by four times. These facts clearly show that something has to be done about this problem and solutions to curb eutrophication need to be taken into actions.

“For every complex problem, there are many solutions that are complicated, messy and right.” H.L. Mencken

Essential macronutrient elements Symbol Essential micronutrients (trace elements) Symbol

Oxygen O Iron Fe

Carbon C Manganese Mn

Nitrogen N Copper Cu

Hydrogen H Zinc Zn

Phosphorous P Boron B

Sulfur S Silicon Si

Potassium K Mobyldenum Mo

Magnesium Mg Chlorine Cl

Calcium Ca Vanadium V

Cobalt Co

Sodium Na

Several approaches have been developed to solve the eutrophication phenomenon. Nevertheless, first one has to figure out what type of nutrients needs to be removed. Then one has to determine how to remove these nutrients.

On the side is a list of chemical elements that are essential for the plants to grow:

1) The Tertiary Treatment:

Aluminum sulfate (alum) [Al2(SO4)3] when added to lake water removes phosphates through precipitation. It forms aluminum ions, which are hydrated (combined with water) as follows:

Al+3 + 6 H2O ⇄ Al (H2O)63+

In a series of chemical hydrolysis steps, hydrogen ions are liberated, which may lower the water pH, and ultimately forms aluminum hydroxide (Al(OH)3), which is a solid precipitate:

Al3+ + H2O ⇄ intermediate reactions ⇄ Al(OH)3(s) + H+

The solid precipitate forms flocculent material (floc) that has a high capacity to adsorb phosphates. The aluminum hydroxide blanket separates the sediment from the water column. The sediments are heavier than water. This floc then settles to the bottom of the lake and creates a barrier that slows down sediment phosphorus release.

2) The Biological Treatment:

Biological removal uses the ability of some microorganisms to take up phosphorous in excess of their instant requirements for nutrients and store it within the cells in the form of polyphosphates

Wastewater operators prefer Biological phosphorus removal since it lowers process costs and reduces the problem of eutrophication

3) Physical Treatment:

Physical Treatment is the best know treatment in removing the nutrients from the water. Using this method, one is preventing the nutrients to enter the water in the first place. This can occur by restricting phosphorus products or starting committees to help recycle, and allow people to treat their lakes in their community.

The best known case of recovering a lake from eutrophication with this method is in Great Lakes basin, in North America. To solve the problem of eutrophication in the Great Lakes, measurements had to be made of nutrients entering and leaving each lake from all sources. The GLC (Great Lake Committee) set goals on how much phosphorus can be entered in the lakes. Through pollution prevention, they are using less polluting products and recycling more, so that less pollution is released and less has to be cleaned up later.

Cleanup measures have been mostly, but not completely, successful. Finish phosphorus removal measures started in the mid-1970s and have targeted rivers and lakes polluted by industrial and municipal discharges. These efforts, which involved removal of phosphorus, have had 90% removal efficiency. Still, some targeted point sources did not show a decrease in runoff despite reduction efforts. In many regions of the world, especially in many developing countries, like Brazil, China, India, in South East Asia, and Eastern Europe, eutrophication in bodies of water has reached dangerous levels and is difficult to be fixed. At one time, many people believed that water was capable of diluting toxic substances. However, no matter how diluted the substance is it maybe still harm the food chain. (Dilution is not always a solution)

Scientists all around the world are still trying to figure out the key component in removing eutrophication that is cheap and effective. The biological and chemical treatments stated above have proven unreliable for the removal of these nutrients. For example, during the winter, air may also be pumped into lakes to improve the oxygen content of their deep waters and to slow the release of nutrients from bottom sediments. Nevertheless, this will only improve conditions in a very small scale. This is why I believe the best method in removing eutrophication is by preventing it in the first place. Just like they did with the Great Lakes (which is 20% of the world’s fresh water). Eutrophication is one of the most difficult water pollution problem to manage. The following I recommended to minimize the amount of in the water system.

 Prevention:

Laws regulating the discharge and treatment of sewage have led to dramatic nutrient reductions to surrounding ecosystems. I believe policies regulating agricultural is needed to control and regulatate the use of phophorus. For example, the Great Lakes Basin Sustainable Water Resources Agreement (June 2005). This is where the Ontario government has strengthened the protection of the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence River Basin. I believe that if we created a strict agreement like that one, for every lake that is suffering with eutrophication, lakes will get better. Chemistry based solutions take turn to be implemented due to political and regulations issues. Also the results can be tested only in the long run. Thus, it is not unreasonable to command communities to respect, help restore and take care of their lakes. These are many action individuals can do to get involved in removing water pollution:

 Limit your fertilizer use and apply at appropriate times

 Control runoff and soil erosion

 Start a compost pile and recycle yard waste

 Conserve water and energy

 Plant trees and drive less

 Maintain your septic system

 Be a responsible boater

The current advances in engineering, technology, communication, biotechnology or science may not have the solution needed to prevent eutrophication from increasing. More people involved in the prevention methods, the faster the solutions would come. I would convince and encouraged others by telling them the facts about Eutrophication, just like I did in this article. They don’t want a sign like the one above in every lake. I believe my solution will be effective because it already worked for the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes are the best known and the most successful eutrophication recovery process.

Conclusion to

Waste Contamination in water -Eutrophication

By Patricia Lopes

Eutrophication is the process by which a body of water becomes enriched in dissolved nutrients (as phosphates). These nutrients stimulate the growth of aquatic plant life. Eutrophication is a natural cause, nevertheless due to the population growth, human activity is the main responsible of the increase of eutrophication from its natural state. The eutrophication process results in the depletion of dissolved oxygen in the water provoking animals and plants dyeing because of the lack of dissolved oxygen.

Eutrophication can produce problems such as bad taste and odorous as well as green scum algae in water bodies. Also, the growth of rooted plants may increase, which lead to the decrease on the amount of oxygen in the deepest waters of a lake for example. In extreme case eutrophication may lead to the death of all forms of life in a water body. This has already occurred in such places as Lake Erie in the Baltic Sea, and is a growing problem in freshwater lakes all over India.

Eutrophication is usually looked as a harmful process. However, eutrophication benefits the growth of plants. The real problem may come in when urbanization adds extensive phosphorus and nitrogen to the water (usually coming from detergent, for instance). The consequence of these is that it speeds up the process of eutrophication and the water becomes over populated of aquatic life. The plants consume the oxygen in the lakes, there resulting the lack of oxygen to feed all the plants and animals. On the other hand, live algae release oxygen into the water, thus contributing to the increase of the oxygen dissolved rates. Nevertheless, when the algae die, they sink to the bottom where bacteria decompose them. That decomposition consumes oxygen. During winter, because of the ice, the lake can't very well absorb extra oxygen from the air, so decomposition of a large mass of algae ends by contributing to reduce the level of oxygen in the water. This resulting some aquatic plant to die. When they die, the remains of the algae add to the organic wastes already in the water; eventually, the water becomes lacking in oxygen. Anaerobic organisms (those that do not require oxygen to live) then attack the organic wastes. Soon, the whole food chain gets affected in the water. Eventually lakes become “dead” lakes because no living organisms resist.

I believe that people may contribute to curb the eutrophication processes that affect bodies of water in the earth. Although eutrophication is a natural process by which lakes gradually age and become more productive, it normally takes thousands of years to progress. Humans, through their various cultural activities, have greatly accelerated this process in thousands of lakes around the globe. The lack of knowledge about the process and the excess of human activities in the premises of water bodies could be controlled so the eutrophication process would not be over accelerated.

The simplest definition of water pollution is "the loss of any of the actual or potential beneficial uses of water caused by any change in its composition due to human activity". I think that the water pollution is the larger pollution. Water covers 71% of the earth's surface and makes up 65 % of our bodies.

Eutrophication is a complicated type of water pollution. The main problems in the lakes are algae. Nevertheless, if we removed the algae, then we would interfere in the rest of the food chain. What we really need is, for example, a way to limit the alga population without giving the blue-greens an advantage. That's where phosphorus comes in to the game. All living things need phosphorus and nitrogen. The question of how to control alga blooms has been nagging us for many years. Many experiences have been preformed to solve this puzzle (like Lake Ontario and Lake Winnipeg). The benefits of reducing inputs of phosphorus are clear for limiting the growth of blue-green algae. To protect the rivers themselves however, it is not clear yet whether reducing inputs of nitrogen will be required or, if so, to what degree.

The supply of phosphorus to Lake Erie was reduced from about 28,000 tones per year to less than half of that. The problem with excess algae out in the open water disappeared.

This is why I believe the solution of reducing phosphorus would work. If it worked with one of the biggest fresh Water Lake it would work in other parts of the world.

I hope that reading this article on the effects of phosphorus on the lakes and in other water bodies, you will be aware on how important it is that we all do our part to help to decrease human use of this nutrient. A big action many people could start doing for example is to start looking at what type of dishwasher detergents they are using. Most brands of dishwasher detergents are a source of phosphorus. I would hope to see this change. One way to approach getting phosphorus out of dishwasher detergents is to have government restrict it through legislation and/or regulation. If we get enough people to start writing to the federal Minister of Environment, the provincial Ministers of Water Stewardship and Conservation as well as your MLA and MP, things may change. Until this time come, I would suggest people to try to use detergents that do not contain phosphorous. For this, I recommend that people read the contents labels when shopping for a detergent.

I believe that the main factor that will push the solution for decreasing eutrophication is you. One by one, if people stop using detergents that affects our lakes the problem will eventually be solved. An obvious factor that will try to block a chance for this solution to take place is the business that profits from phosphorous based products. Also, other problems are that there aren’t enough natural detergents to supply the world. This is because most of the population uses phosphorous-based detergents due to the fact that the natural detergents for example producers do not make enough profit to compete with them. This is, again, where everybody comes in. START BUYING NATURAL DETERGENTS!

I learned from my research and discussing the topic of eutrophication with others, that little details that one can change in their daily life can affect a whole lake. One by one, if people start changing the detergents they use; one by one-ill lakes will recover. This is the good side of the eutrophication process: it can still be recovered. It doesn’t matter how bad it is, affected water bodies will always be reversible to its natural beauty.

What I would like you to think

about from reading of this article is just

to help to preserve the beautiful things

in life with care and love. Don’t think

just because we figured out what is causing

Eutrophication, that cultural etrophication

will suddenly stop. This is not true, eutrophication is happening right now just as you are reading this article. In conclusion, I just wanted you to realize that a little sacrifice from you may have a huge impact on something so magnificent as the nature that surrounds us.

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