Noblesville phosphorus runoff impacting Gulf of Mexico

Posted at 4:52 PM, Oct 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-19 17:14:08-04

NOBLESVILLE, Ind. -- There are over 700 miles between the cornfields of Noblesville and the sandy beaches of the Gulf Coast, but a study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says the city and other Midwestern locations are having a harmful environmental impact on sea life in the Gulf of Mexico.

According to Ray Thompson, utilities director for Noblesville, the EPA has spent several years studying the effects of phosphorous runoff from Midwestern waterways that eventually make its way into the Gulf.

Phosphorous, which is commonly used in agriculture and lawn fertilizer, has been found to contribute to the reduction of oxygen levels in the Gulf of Mexico.

“What’s good for farms and land up here, turns out, is bad for the water down there," said Thompson.

To combat the problem, the EPA issued new guidelines. Under the previous permit, Thompson said cities like Noblesville only had to monitor phosphorus levels. Now under the new permit, cities must remove anything over one part per million. Those requirements are enforced by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

To meet those guidelines, Noblesville recently broke ground on a $9 million facility to store chemicals that will pull phosphorous from the White River. Construction should be finished by August 2018. The city has already announced it is raising the sewer fee rate by 3.5 percent over the next three years to pay for the facility.

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