Friday, January 21, 2022

LTE: Say No to Nitrogen

Letters to the Editor

With all the talk about the red tide related fish and manatee deaths off Marco Island, I remember a 1970 Earth Day poster that read, “We have met the enemy and it is US!”

While the news focuses on the Nitrogen rich discharge from Lake Okeechobee, we should not let this distract us from our own Nitrogen discharges.

With all the septic tanks eliminated ten years ago, one would think that the Nitrogen level would now be back to normal.

Actually, 2017 and 2018 canal water samples show highest ever levels of total Nitrogen, the highest values are over twice the state safe limit for our coast.

Biologists attribute Marco’s high Nitrogen level to our loss of the important sea grass nursery for many fish species. It can also feed the algae, which is responsible for Red Tide.

We need to eliminate the amount of human discharged Nitrogen that ends up in our vital waterways and beaches. The logical source is landscape fertilizer and possibly reuse water supplied by our sewer treatment plant. The surface Nitrogen washes off our land from rain and irrigation water. It then flows into our swales, street drains and culverts and that lead to our canals and waterways. Even in our yards, clippings decay and release the nutrients back into the soil where it joins up with dissolved fertilizer and drains down under our seawalls and into the waterways.

It will not be easy but Marco’s City Council needs to eliminate all manmade Nitrogen discharges.

After 48 years, we still need to stop being the enemy of our environment.

Just say No to Nitrogen!

2 responses to “LTE: Say No to Nitrogen”

  1. JEANNETTE says:


  2. DAVID CRAIN says:

    Perhaps what is being ignored from Mr. Tim Hall’s presentation to the WAC Committee last month are the following observations;
    At the 17 minute, 10 second mark of the Video (available for viewing at the City of Marco’s website) Mr. Tim Hall, Turrell & Hall & Associates, begins his presentation, an analysis of the data from 12 test sites around Marco Island for 2017. Mr. Hall states 2017 was a very wet year, with over 75 inches of rain. At the 30:30 mark he goes on to say there is a good bet there are also heightened level of nutrients in the surrounding Gulf waters and there is a heightened level of nutrients in the uplands, which I would consider to be not just the interior of Marco Island, but also the mainland and islands surrounding us.
    We all want the waters on our beaches, the Marco River and canals to be as clean as possible. The vast majority of testing has shown our waterways to be within standards for Enterococci, Total Phosphorus, Chlororphyll-a, Dissolved Oxygen. The concern is the Total Nitrogen levels, which were above State standards. Before we come to any conclusion, we MUST know what were the TN levels in the surrounding waters during 2017 as well as into the future. To come to any conclusions prior to gathering data of surrounding waters is ridiculous and unprofessional. I would expect better from a PE.

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