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Nutrient Reduction Challenges

De-oxygenated “dead zones” in our water ways and oceans where life is almost non-existent, are estimated at more than 200 worldwide.  There is widespread scientific agreement that changes in the global nitrogen cycle and increased nutrient loading, primarily caused by non-point source pollution (i.e., agricultural activities and storm water runoff) are directly linked to these “dead zones” and other significant impacts on our water resources, including :

  • Nuisance levels of algae and aquatic vegetation
  • Reduced penetration of light
  • Increased turbidity - sight feeding fish, aesthetics, water safety, limits growth of submerged aquatic vegetation, impairment of fisheries and habitat degradation
  • Low levels of dissolved oxygen,  high levels of ammonia; results of organic decomposition
  • Increased drinking water treatment costs - formation of disinfection by-products (e.g., THMs (trihalomethanes)) in drinking water, taste and odor effects of algae
  • Imbalance of aquatic species
  • Shifts in the structure of the food chain
  • Toxic algae and cyanobacteria (blue green algae)

There have been numerous studies and projects in Central and Eastern Europe to directly address the reduction of point and non-point sources of nutrient pollution, and confront the transboundary or national challenges present in the identified nutrient “hotspots.”  Despite regulatory and legal enforcement of point sources across the region, such nutrient pollution remains high.  Therefore, more must de done to address nutrient pollution from non-point or diffuse source discharges.

The Living Water Exchange will share information and accelerate the replication of the most appropriate nutrient reduction practices developed from GEF and other investments over the last fifteen years.