Nutrient farming (NuFarming) is a market based strategy that uses restored wetlands designed, built and operated for the purpose of managing nutrients, trapping sediments and storing flood waters. Nutrient farms produce environmental credits, such as nutrient reduction credits, that can be sold to municipal or industrial waste treatment facilities who need to meet a water quality standard and can’t cost-effectively remove the nutrients themselves. NuFarming simply involves growing wetlands and passing the contaminated water through the dense vegetation and over the organic soil.
Nitrogen and phosphorous are powerful nutrients. They have the ability to make grass green and dramatically increase crop yields. They also have the the power to pollute water and threaten human and aquatic life. Nitrogen and phosphorous are causing global problems. As the world’s population increases, nutrient run off from farm fields as well as larger amounts of human waste are increasing nutrient pollution that stretches around the world.
The result is that one of the largest “dead zones” forms annually in the northern Gulf of Mexico as high levels of nitrogen are discharged from the Mississippi River. This creates a phenomenon known as hypoxia. Hypoxia, or low oxygen, is where the concentration of dissolved oxygen in the water decreases to a level that can no longer support important living aquatic organisms. This cripples the Gulf as fish flee to find food and shrimp and crab are left to die.
The Environmental Protection Agency has now required that states pass new water quality standards for both nitrogen and phosphorous to reduce our pollution. Two options to manage nutrient pollution include using conventional “concrete and steel” technology, or the natural alternative “NuFarming.”
A recent study by JP Morgan shows that nutrient farming could lessen the tax burden to Chicago area residents. NuFarming will reduce the tax bill impact on homeowners within the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago service area by 51% in comparison to building waste water treatment facilities to meet pending Illinois water quality standards. NuFarming will also provide farmers with substantially more income as they begin to convert portions of their traditional low lying crops to Nufarms.
NuFarming will provide benefits to rural and urban citizens alike by building a strong bridge between these communities. The NuFarming alternative is a dynamic process that needs to be adapted and analyzed to not only evaluate taxpayer impact but the additional benefits such as a reduction of flood damage, improved wildlife habitat and the creation of numerous recreational opportunities.