With all the talk about the red tide related fish and manatee deaths off Marco Island, I remember a 1970 Earth Day poster that read, “We have met the enemy and it is US!”
While the news focuses on the Nitrogen rich discharge from Lake Okeechobee, we should not let this distract us from our own Nitrogen discharges.
With all the septic tanks eliminated ten years ago, one would think that the Nitrogen level would now be back to normal.
Actually, 2017 and 2018 canal water samples show highest ever levels of total Nitrogen, the highest values are over twice the state safe limit for our coast.
Biologists attribute Marco’s high Nitrogen level to our loss of the important sea grass nursery for many fish species. It can also feed the algae, which is responsible for Red Tide.
We need to eliminate the amount of human discharged Nitrogen that ends up in our vital waterways and beaches. The logical source is landscape fertilizer and possibly reuse water supplied by our sewer treatment plant. The surface Nitrogen washes off our land from rain and irrigation water. It then flows into our swales, street drains and culverts and that lead to our canals and waterways. Even in our yards, clippings decay and release the nutrients back into the soil where it joins up with dissolved fertilizer and drains down under our seawalls and into the waterways.
It will not be easy but Marco’s City Council needs to eliminate all manmade Nitrogen discharges.
After 48 years, we still need to stop being the enemy of our environment.
Just say No to Nitrogen!