Maintaining Clean Waterways Starts in Your Yard

August 6, 2016

August is National Water Quality Month and a good time for residents to take a fresh look at how they impact water quality and can help keep waterways clean. Understanding how fertilization impacts waterways is one place to start.

Children sitting in the grass by a waterway

Nutrient Runoff a Global Problem

The United Nations and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) agree that nutrient runoff of nitrogen and phosphorus is the most widespread, costly and challenging water quality problem globally.

Although vital for plants, excess nitrogen and phosphorus contributes to algae blooms, fish kills, and objectionable odors and appearance in ponds, lakes, and streams. Nitrogen in drinking water can be harmful to humans, even at low levels. According to the EPA one way to “significantly reduce the potential for pollution” from agriculture, a significant source of nutrient runoff, is to apply fertilizers “in the proper amount, at the right time of year and with the right method.” The same practices apply to homeowners.

Proper Fertilization Reduces Runoff and Helps Conserve Water

Phosphorus helps produce healthy lawns, which helps keep waterways clean by naturally filtering water, but not all phosphorus is created equal.

Research conducted by the University of Florida compared the Non-Leaching Phosphorus to fertilizers with other sources of phosphorus. It demonstrated that the recycled form of phosphorus in Milorganite fertilizer is more readily available to plants and significantly less likely to leach into waterways.

“The phosphorus in Milorganite is insoluble and released at a rate plants can use. Sound fertilization practices, including the use of the most environmentally friendly fertilizers available, is one way we can all help protect our waterways,” explained Spence. Milorganite complies with all federal and local phosphorus regulations.

Milorganite Safe in Drought-Stricken areas

Proper lawn fertilization encourages deeper, healthier root systems, which require less water, important for drought-stricken areas. “Milorganite’s phosphorus is only absorbed at the right moisture and temperature levels. It’s safe to use during drought.”

Milorganite doesn’t need to be watered in and won’t burn vegetation, because it lacks the salts found in most other fertilizers. Being predominantly organic matter, it also increases the water-holding capacity of soil.

MMSD, Milorganite: Over 90 Years of Environmental Stewardship

The Metropolitan Milwaukee Sewerage District (MMSD) has been a steward of the environment for over 90 years—before we knew what that term meant. It also manufactures and markets Milorganite, a slow-release nitrogen fertilizer.

Milorganite, manufactured since 1926, was a way to handle what remained of Milwaukee’s sewerage treatment process. To this day, recycled, nutrient-rich material is kiln dried into an environmentally safe fertilizer rather than shipping it to landfills. “Milorganite is a tangible, value-added byproduct of our commitment to the environment as it has been for nine decades,” said Jeff Spence, director of marketing for Milorganite.

“MMSD and the Milorganite teams don’t pay lip service to being stewards of the environment just to sell a product or demonstrate how great we are. It’s part of our DNA,” explained Spence. “The common thread through all of our business activities is to improve the environment, especially our waterways. Caring for the environment is a shared responsibility, from industries to individuals. What we do inside and outside of our homes impacts the environment.”