Friday, January 27, 2017

Phosphorous Damage to Waterways

When I toured the Stickney sewage treatment plant, they made a big deal about the phosphorous recovery plant they recently built. I presumed that, like adding disinfectant equipment, it was probably cheaper to remove the phosphorous than continue to fight the EPA and lawsuits. I knew excess phosphorous was causing a dead zone in a big part of the Gulf of Mexico because algae were hogging all of the oxygen in the water. I did not realize the negative impacts were also local in terms of algae blooms in the Chicago River. I did know that algae and unwanted surface vegetation was an issue with stagnate waters. Downers Grove had to add aerators to Prince Pond to remove the "stuff" that was growing on the surface. Some stretches of the I&M Canal that are still wet and some mill races have surface vegetation.
20170121 7708, note the white scum on the right. The entire mill race back to the river was covered with this scum. And this was in January.

10140710 0001, I&M Canal Lock #6, upstream

I&M Canal Lock #6, downstream
Du Page River upstream of I&M Canal Lock #7.
Upstream of the mill race gate next to Lock #7
Downstream of Lock #7
Upstream of Dresden Access (street view is looking downstream)
Upsteam of the Aux Sable Aqueduct
Between the Aux Sable Aqueduct and Lock
Marseilles, IL doesn't keep any water in its stretch of the I&M Canal, so the bottom of the canal is wetlands vegetation.

20140627 0119
But Morris, IL built a fancy Canal Park along their canal and kept water in the canal. They need to revisit their control structures and let some flow through the canal because there was a lot of "green slime" on the canal when I visited.
Looking upstream from the park. The Illinois River Bridge is in the background.
Looking downstream from the other end of the park at the Morris Terminal RR Bridge. Note the entire surface is covered.
And it stunk when I was on parts of that bridge. I took this closeup of the scum from the bridge. I wonder if it was that white and brown "stuff" that was making the stink.
Update: In the March 17, 2018 issue of Science News, Carolyn Gramling has an article titled "Fresh water is maxed out on phosphorus." From January 24 Water Resources Research she reports: "Human sewage was responsible for about 54% of the 1.47 teragrams of human-driven global load; agricultural fertilizer added about 38%. [Industrial was the third source.] China contributed 30% of the global total, India 8% and the United States 7%."

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