Using Innovations to Reduce Nutrients from Municipal Wastewater Discharges

Photo of algae blooms on a body of water

Project Brief

The Challenge

Nitrogen and phosphorus discharges to surface water can adversely affect public health and the environment by causing harmful algal blooms, which limit our ability to use affected water bodies for recreation or as drinking water sources. EPA has been looking for new ways to reduce nutrient pollution from point sources such as municipal wastewater treatment plants.

ERG's Solution

ERG supported EPA in conducting a national study of nutrient removal and secondary technologies by supporting a voluntary survey, conducting site visits, and providing training on low-cost nutrient removal techniques. The study found that even small plants, which are not designed for nutrient removal, can reduce nitrogen and phosphorus discharges by making changes in operations or by investing in additional monitoring and process control equipment. By taking advantage of systems already in place, plants can protect their local waterways without burdening the community with additional wastewater treatment costs. ERG continues to work with EPA on this important issue by reviewing data collected at different points within treatment systems to understand the science behind these improvements. As potential solutions are identified, ERG works with EPA to provide clear, concise, actionable information on these solutions directly to communities to help them meet their discharge requirements.


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency