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Water Management Associations
Phosphorus Reduction Rules Could Help Lakes Meet Water Quality Standards
Municipalities and business groups are backing a bill that would delay implementation of costly phosphorus reduction rules, and instead give communities and industry more time and flexibility to cut the algae-causing pollutant.

The new regulations are supported by more than 100 municipal treatment plants operators and several business groups, which say current regulations will be too costly, are difficult to meet and may not solve algae problems in state waterways.

Wisconsin Manufactures & Commerce, the state's largest businesses group, has pegged the cost of the standard at up to $4.9 billion.

But Meyer Smith says a 2012 study by the Department of Natural Resources raised other economic considerations: $1.1 billion in increased property values, $598 million in improved recreational opportunities and more than $10 million in reduced water cleanup costs when the new regulations are implemented.

According to the DNR, 25% of more than 700 waterways in the state fail to meet water quality standards for phosphorus, which comes from sources that include fertilizer, detergent and manure.

Unsightly algae blooms deplete oxygen and harm aquatic life. Some forms of the algae can also be toxic. On Lake Michigan, algae blooms fueled by phosphorus play a role in the foul smelling beaches during the summer.

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