Protect Water From Harmful Fertilizer Runoff

Target: Sonny Perdue, incoming United States Secretary of Agriculture

Goal: Reduce phosphate runoff from agriculture, which has lead to, and continues to lead to the eutrophication of water bodies throughout the United States.

Eutrophication is the process whereby bodies of water become enriched — usually over-enriched — with nutrients, almost always due to the discharge into the water of phosphate contained in chemicals, fertilizers, and sewage. The eutrophication caused by improper disposal of these substances, which disperse into and pollute waterways, lakes, and coasts throughout the United States, can lead to a number of damaging effects. These include toxic algae blooms, hypoxia — the depletion of oxygen in a body of water, suffocating aquatic organisms — and the introduction of invasive species, which can push out endemic wildlife and reduce biodiversity.

The majority of the phosphate-containing wastewater which causes eutrophication comes from fertilizer runoff. Phosphate is an essential ingredient in modern agriculture, and the United States is the world’s largest producer and exporter of food; naturally, this leads to a constant and often unmanageable over-abundance of phosphate-rich wastewater flowing out of farms.

This wastewater is either treated, and then the clean remnants released into waterways, or worse, ejected from farm lands into surrounding environments while still nutrient-rich and harmful. And, while the methods of wastewater treatment have improved over the past 50 years, becoming more efficient, there is still a highly unacceptable level of wastewater ejected into water bodies throughout America on a daily basis.

New and better policies should be enacted to counter this problem on a national scale. With a new Secretary of Agriculture incoming, the time is ripe to get this issue noticed. Sign below to demand increased oversight of the disposal of agricultural waste.


Dear Secretary-Elect Perdue,

The improper disposal of phosphate-rich wastewater, particularly from farmlands, is a major cause of the eutrophication of  lakes, waterways, and coastal environments throughout the United States. This nutrient-rich water poses serious problems for the ecology of American aquatic systems: Wildlife is decimated by hypoxia, invasive species, and toxic algae, all brought about through eutrophication.

Harmful algal blooms, for instance, can be particularly devastating: When consumed by animals, poisonous algae fed by nutrient runoff can kill them, often through toxicity to the animals’ brains or livers. By making their way through the food chain, these strains of algae can ravage entire ecosystems and even pose harm to livestock and humans.

A survey conducted by the Lake Biwa Research Institute between the years 1988 and 1993 found that 53 percent of all lakes in North America had been affected by eutrophication. The problem has certainly become much worse since then.

Particularly worrying is the ongoing eutrophication of the Great Lakes, which together contain 21 percent of the planet’s surface fresh water, as well as coastal environments, which, when intact, provide a regular income and source of food for millions of Americans.

As the incoming Secretary of Agriculture, and in line with President Trumps promise to provide “cystal clear water” to Americans, we ask that you pressure Congress and the Department of Agriculture to do all they can to better treat wastewater and protect our lakes, rivers, and coasts from further eutrophication.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: F. Lamiot

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  1. Gen Lovyet Agustsson says:

    clean water now! water is life not a luxury!

  2. “Phosphate-rich water, particularly from farmlands”. Pollution from farmlands, and the destruction of forests in order to use them as farmlands, are both huge contributors to the destruction of this earth. Please watch Cowspiracy.
    Governments need to STOP their SUPPORT of the meat and dairy industries, which take up the MAJORITY of farmland.

  3. no fertilizer run off in our waterways now.

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