What is Nutrient Pollution?
Nutrient pollution is one of America's most widespread, costly and challenging environmental problems, and is caused by excess nitrogen and phosphorus in the water.
Nitrogen and phosphorus are nutrients that are natural parts of aquatic ecosystems. They support the growth of algae and aquatic plants, which provide food and habitat for fish, shellfish and smaller organisms that live in water.
But when too much nitrogen and phosphorus enter the environment - usually from a wide range of human activities - the water can become polluted. Nutrient pollution has impacted many streams, rivers, lakes, bays and coastal waters for the past several decades, resulting in serious environmental and human health issues, and impacting the economy.
Too much nitrogen and phosphorus in the water causes algae to grow faster than ecosystems can handle. Significant increases in algae harm water quality, food resources and habitats, and decrease the oxygen that fish and other aquatic life algae need to survive. Large growths of algae can severely reduce or eliminate
oxygen in the water, leading to
illness in fish and the death of large numbers of fish.
Large contributors to nutrient pollution include fertilizers, as well as yard and
pet waste and certain soaps and detergents.
In Hawaii, there are numerous studies linking farm and urban runoff to severe terrestrial and marine impacts. One such impact is the growth of lethal tumors on sea turtles which are caused by an excess amount of nitrogen in the algae they consume.
The Problem in Maunalua Bay
When precipitation falls or excessive watering (referred to as rain and urban
runoff) occurs, the water often runs off yards and across hard surfaces (commonly referred to as impervious surface) - like rooftops, sidewalks and roads - and carries pollutants, including nitrogen and phosphorus, into the storm drains that lead into Maunalua Bay, untreated.
In the Maunalua Bay region, watersheds are 50-90% impervious, have thousands of storm drains, and an extensive municipal storm sewer system (ditchs, channels, cemented streams).
In Maunalua Bay, the big problem is invasive alien algae, including mudweed, prickly seaweed,and gorilla ogo. These species thrive with energy boosts from
land-based nutrients, thereby proliferating fast and outcompeting our native algae (limu) in the nearshore reef flat.
Bokashi Making Workshop Feb 15th 1-4 pm
Bokashi is a a process that converts food waste and similar organic matter into a soil amendment which adds nutrients and improves soil texture. It's a little different from composting in that it uses bacteria to ferment the material rather than decomposition and the fermented matter is fed directly to field or garden soil, without requiring further time to mature.
Learn how to make bokashi at a workshop hosted by the North Shore Community Compost Movement and Patagonia, Feb 15th from 1-4 pm at Waihuena Farm, 59-414 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, HI 96712. Register HERE
to attend this awesome (and campaign relevant!) opportunity!
2020 Hawaii Invasive Species Awareness Month!
This February, the State of Hawaii is hosting the 3rd annual Hawaii Invasive Species Awareness Month (HISAM) in coordination with the U.S. National Invasive Species Awareness Week (NISAW). HISAM seeks to promote information sharing and public engagement in what the Hawaii State Legislature has declared “the single greatest threat to Hawaii’s economy and natural environment and to the health and lifestyle of Hawaii’s people.”
Many of the Campaign partners are actively reducing invasive species in the water and on land. Go to the Partners page for more information.