Nutrients Emerging As New Water-Quality Concern

Colorado is proposing to control nutrients in water for the first time. Nutrients, mainly nitrogen and phosphorous, are essential for plant and animal growth, but they can create algae blooms that steal oxygen from aquatic life. Wastewater-treatment plants are the major source of nutrients, although leaking sewers and storm drains and fertilizer from farms and ranches also produce them. Colorado has nutrient standards for only a few problem bodies of water (e.g., Cherry Creek Reservoir, Fruit Growers Reservoir), but no statewide standards. Only 17 states do, but none with standards that apply to all streams and lakes as Colorado is proposing.