With phosphorus and nutrient run-off in the news these days, NEW Water is working on its own phosphorus reduction plan, in order to meet its permit requirements with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
In 2018, NEW Water will be required to further reduce the amount of phosphorus it discharges into the Fox River, which is 31,624 pounds per year, or less than 3% of the overall phosphorus in the Bay, according to the DNR. NEW Water would need to build a new facility to further reduce phosphorus discharge, which is estimated to cost more than $100 million. In lieu of that, the DNR is allowing point sources, such as NEW Water, to pursue Adaptive Management (AM), which would allow the facility to work with the community to reduce phosphorus.
“This is a community-wide problem needing a community-wide solution,” said Bill Hafs, Director of Environmental Program Services. “To meet our permit requirements for phosphorus discharge at NEW Water, we are implementing a pilot project in Silver Creek, and we have assembled a great team of partners.”
Silver Creek stakeholders are collaborating on the project, which will span four years, and include: field and stream surveying, inventory of stream bank erosion and in-stream sediment deposition, soil and stream bank sediment sampling plan, stream monitoring, landowner interviews, field walks, and analysis of data. The Silver Creek team includes agronomists, who will work with farmers throughout this 4,800-acre sub-watershed, in attempts to achieve .075 mg/liter phosphorus levels in the stream, per state water quality standards as set out by the Wisconsin State Legislature. A U.S. Geological Survey monitoring station has been set up to take samples, before best management land practices are implemented. Monitoring will occur throughout the duration of the project. The data set will scientifically demonstrate the impact of the project.
“We selected a manageable-sized sub-watershed for the purposes of this pilot project,” Hafs said, “and we hope to demonstrate, scientifically, what happens to stream quality when implementation of best management practices is implemented.”
Partners on the Silver Creek Project include the Oneida Nation, US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), US Geological Survey (USGS), UW Green Bay, Brown County and Outagamie County Land and Water Conservation Departments, The Nature Conservancy, Ducks Unlimited, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and the private agronomists. CH2MHill has been retained to facilitate the project.
"Trout once flourished in Silver Creek, which is a great indicator of an ecosystem’s health,” Hafs said, “and ultimately, we’d all like to see that happen again.”
Project funders include The Fund for Lake Michigan, NRCS, Ducks Unlimited. This project also has received a $1.67 million grant from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under an assistance agreement to NEW Water. The contents of this document do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Environmental Protection Agency, nor does the EPA endorse trade names or recommend the use of commercial products mentioned in this document.