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Sustainable Phosphorus Recovery from Wastewater
A new approach to wastewater treatment may be key in efforts to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Moreover, it can be profitable.

Phosphorus is an essential element for human nutrition. It plays multiple roles in the human body, including the development of bones and teeth. Fertilizer with phosphorus, applied to crops or lawns, enables healthy growth. Without it, the basic cells of plants and animals, and life itself, would not exist.

Typically, phosphorus is found in phosphate-containing minerals that are mined—a limited and non-renewable resource. The annual demand is rising quickly. However, once used, phosphorus is difficult to reclaim.

Where does the phosphorus go? In animals (including humans), urine contains phosphorus. Surface water carry large amounts of phosphorus from fields and lawns downstream. The result is phosphorus in water discharged by wastewater treatment plants.

Additionally, accumulation of phosphorus can result in problems like algae blooms in lakes and other surface water bodies. In turn, algae blooms deplete oxygen from the water, affecting the delicate balance of aquatic life.


 
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Curly Leaf Pond Weed Could Cause Problems on Iowa Great Lakes - The presence of curly leaf pond weed and other aquatic plants is an indicator of excellent water quality in the lakes. According to Hawkins, water quality in most of the Iowa Great Lakes is the best it has been in the past couple of decades, based on monitoring. The weed can be mechanically removed, along with other vegetation from around docks and boat hoists.


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