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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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One of the Curses of Lake Management - Eurasian Milfoil - Supervisor Dennis Faber, who also is a commissioner of the Camp/Center Lakes Rehabilitation District, said conventional wisdom going into this spring and summer was that the heavy snowfall of this year — including on frozen lakes — would mean less milfoil on local lakes. The actual experience, at least on Camp and Center lakes, was the opposite.


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