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Maryland Gets Grant to Help National Study of Water Pollutants - Will Help Scientists Determine Better Health Standards for U.S. Waterways

Release Date: 11/9/1999
Contact Information: Roy Seneca (215) 814-5567

Roy Seneca (215) 814-5567

PHILADELPHIA - Maryland will assist in a nationwide study of nutrient pollution, which scientists believe is responsible for toxic outbreaks that killed tens of thousands of fish in some East and Gulf Coast waterways in recent years.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded a $54,000 grant to Maryland to compile water quality standards to prevent eutrophication -- a condition that leads to excessive growth of harmful algae and low levels of oxygen in water, leaving little room for healthy and diverse species of fin fish, shellfish and aquatic plants. The abundance of nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus in waterways is a known cause of eutrophication.

State reports nationwide show nutrients as one of the leading causes of water quality problems. Typically, nutrients end up in rivers, lakes and streams as a consequence of polluted runoff from agricultural land, lawns, construction sites, golf courses and parking lots and pavements that get washed away during heavy rainfall and snow melts. The overflow of large sewer collection systems is another source of polluted runoff.

Maryland will use the grant to work with the University of Maryland to evaluate water quality data for the nutrients nitrogen and phosphorus. The work will help Maryland establish criteria for safe levels of nutrients in waterways.

Under the Clean Water Action Plan, EPA is responsible for establishing new criteria for nutrients by 2000. Maryland’s work will be considered in EPA’s effort to improve to protect public health and aquatic life .