Letter: Health of local waters a responsibility

Published 9:08 am Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Excess phosphorous in the local rivers is a concern because it stimulates the growth of algae. Excessive algae growth and decay can severely deplete the oxygen supply in the river, endangering fish and other forms of aquatic life and is a health hazard for human contact. Is this what we want our rivers to become?

The question we must answer is, where is the phosphorous coming from?

Non-point phosphorous pollution comes from urban areas, construction sites, agricultural lands, manure run-off from feed lots and from agricultural fields and human waste from non compliant septic systems. Point source phosphorous comes from municipal and industrial discharges.

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We are so fortunate here in Mower County to be the headwaters for the Cedar, Upper Iowa, Root and Wapsipinican rivers. We have a responsibility to keep these waters clean. Our city administrator, city and county leaders need to be concerned with solving this issue for all residents of Austin and Mower County who want to enjoy our waterways. We feel the cost should be the responsibility of the polluter or polluters.

We need to know and understand how we all can reduce phosphorous loads in our waterways. For Homeowners, we should use phosphorous-free cleaners, keep grass clippings on the grass and not in our streets, wash your car on the grass to avoid detergent runoff into the storm sewer, only use phosphorous free fertilizers on your lawn. We need to know where the phosphorous is coming from that’s polluting our rivers. Is it coming from Industrial, farming and urban sources? We all need to act and respect our rivers because increasing phoshorous levels are unacceptable.

Residents of Austin and Mower County overwhelmingly support clean water. In 2008, 71 percent of the residents voted for the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Ammendment. To solve the phosphorus issue everybody will have to work together.

Jim and Merlene Stiles