At this month’s Environmental Management Commission meeting, the NC Division of Water Resources provided an update on trends in animal production and its nitrogen and phosphorus waste byproducts as it relates to our state’s watersheds.
Water quality monitoring of the State’s Neuse and Tar-Pam watersheds has demonstrated nutrient pollution of these water bodies and resulted in their being listed as impaired. Meanwhile, the state’s efforts to curb pollution sources like waste water treatment plants and runoff from farms and development have not resulted in measurable improvement to the estuaries. .
One belief was that increased animal waste is the source for nutrients preventing reductions in the overall nutrient loads flowing to the estuaries. That belief is what led to the report to the commission.
What were the report’s findings? For the nutrient sensitive waters of the Neuse and Tar Pam, here are some results:
The report illustrates the complicated nature of nutrient management. While the amount of animals and animal waste may be declining, monitored nutrient pollution flowing to the estuary shows little change. Its findings show that regulators need to broaden their scope to find solutions to the problem of nutrient pollution.