Georgia has a reputation for fighting hard to preserve its waterways. Whether it involves wells, underwater springs, rivers or the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, government agencies and environmental organizations are tireless in their efforts to protect the waters from pollution that can taint residential water supplies and endanger delicate ecosystems. One of the most dangerous substances that frequently finds its way into the water systems is fertilizer.
This is the time of year when many farmers and gardeners are preparing their soil for the spring planting. Often this includes spreading thick layers of chemical fertilizer over the ground. The purpose of fertilizer is to replenish many of the nutrients in the soil that the plants will need to grow. However, it takes very little for the chemicals in fertilizers to end up in your drinking water.
The deadly effects of chemical fertilizers
Fertilizers generally contain nitrogen and phosphorous that are absorbed into the ground. However, much of that seeps into underground water systems, and excess fertilizer washes away in the rain. The runoff also makes its way to streams and tributaries, overwhelming the water with nutrients. Nitrogen and phosphorus in water systems may result in an over-enrichment of water, leading to any of the following:
- Harmful algae blooms that smother and sicken fish and other wildlife
- Toxicity in fish and shellfish that remains dangerous even after you cook them
- Changes in aquatic plant life that alter the habitats for fish and other fauna
- The increase of less desirable fish species to the detriment of more desirable ones
- The clogging of irrigation canals with overgrown aquatic weeds
- The rise of unpleasant odors associated with the slime of weed infestation
- Loss of enjoyment of recreational bodies of water you once frequented
- Concentrations of heavy metals in ground water that place you, your family and your animals at risk
If you are conscious of the ill-effects of fertilizers on the environment, you may choose to feed your garden with less toxic ones that are environmentally friendly. These fertilizers are coated to prevent them from releasing toxins into the water. Nevertheless, you may also be aware of farms, industries and neighbors who continue to allow fertilizers and additional sources of nitrogen and other pollutants into the water systems. You may decide to dig deeper into your legal options for fighting for the protection of Georgia’s waters.