Too Much Nitrogen
Nitrogen is an important element for life on the Earth – it supports aquatic ecosystems by helping algae and aquatic plants grow, which provide food and habitat for fish, shellfish and other animals that live in streams, rivers and lakes. But, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. Too much nitrogen in the water causes algae to grow faster than ecosystems can handle. Significant increases in algae harm water quality, food resources and habitats, and decrease the oxygen that fish and other aquatic life need to survive.
Viewer Tip: Rain and irrigation water running off of lawns and agricultural lands can pick up extra nitrogen, carrying it into storm drains and local water bodies. For homeowners, common sources of nitrogen are fertilizers, yard waste and pet waste. Using smart irrigation strategies can reduce the amount of water – and nitrogen – running off your property.
- Measure soil moisture to determine when and how much water to apply. An easy way to find out if your grass is thirsty is to stick a screwdriver in the ground. If it goes in easily, don’t water! Most home lawns only need about one-inch of water, approximately every 5-7 days.
- Check the local weather forecast – rain in the forecast can eliminate the need for watering for several days.
(Sources: EPA, “Nutrient Pollution”, http://www.epa.gov/nutrientpollution/; WaterSense Program, http://www.epa.gov/WaterSense)