Excess nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) are among the most prevalent cause of water quality impairment in the United States. EPA, state and local governments, and numerous stakeholders have made progress to reduce nutrients loadings that contribute to harmful algal blooms, hypoxia, fish kills, terrestrial biodiversity changes and degradation of drinking source waters that require costly water treatment. These pollutants continue to be released and discharged at concentrations that cause adverse impacts to human health and aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.
To help ensure the sustainability of our water, land, and air, and to protect our health while also providing the material, food, and energy required by society, EPA's researchers are exploring solutions to reduce and control nutrient pollution and harmful algal blooms, maximize efficient nutrient usepromote nutrient removal processes, and protect people and natural resources.
- Research Activities
EPA's research provides innovative solutions to address the problem of nutrient pollution. Below are some examples of research being conducted at EPA:
- Sources of nutrient pollution
- Harmful algal blooms and associated algal toxins
- Fate and transport of nutrients in the environment
- Chemical changes that happen as nutrients move in the environment
- Effects of nutrient pollution on our environment and health
- Benefits and costs associated with different nutrient management choices
Much of this research supports the development of regulatory limits on nutrient pollution in water resources. At the same time, researchers work to understand the social and economic costs and benefits associated with potential solutions to excess nutrient problems so that optimal solutions for managing water quality over the long term can be achieved.
- Available Tools
- Water Quality Analysis Simulation Program (WASP)
- Causal Analysis/Diagnosis Decision Information System (CADDIS)
- Global Change Explorer
- WATER, Soil, and Hydro-Environmental Decision Support System (WATERSHEDSS)
See EPA's Methods, Models, Tools, and Databases for Water Research for a full listing of available water-related tools.
- Featured Science Matters Articles
- Nutrients: How much is too much?
- Keeping Fertilizer in the Ground and Dollars in Farmers’ Pockets
- Nitrogen Footprint Tool: Reducing Nitrogen at the Institutional Level
- Nutrients in Narragansett: Improving Understanding and Communication
- Partnerships to Protect Chesapeake Bay
- Into the Dead Zone
- Showing Buried Streams the Daylight
- Down the Drain: Wetlands as Sinks for Absorbing Reactive Nitrogen
- What’s Ailing Your Stream? CADDIS Can Help You Find Out
- Harmful Algal Blooms and Cyanobacteria
- Monitoring and Remote Sensing
- Nitrogen Deposition and Nutrient Modeling
- Nitrogen Mapping
- Nutrient Management Case Studies
- Nutrient Recovery
- Sustainable Watersheds and Nutrient Pollution