Press release from the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, shared April 16:

RALEIGH – North Carolina environmental officials are inviting people to a May forum in Durham on more effective and economically sound solutions to the water quality problems caused by nutrient pollution.

The North Carolina Forum on Nutrient Over-Enrichment: The Science, Economics and Options for Proactive Public Policy is scheduled for May 29-30 at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel and Convention Center in Durham. The event is being hosted by the state Environmental Management Commission and the N.C. Division of Water Quality.

The forum will provide state and local leaders, managers and planners with a well-balanced review of the science, regulatory issues, economic considerations and other policy issues related to nutrient over-enrichment and options for avoiding impairments to surface waters.

More information about the forum, including the agenda and registration information, is available at: Reduced registration costs are available for those who register before May 1.

Nutrients – primarily nitrogen and phosphorus – are present naturally in streams, rivers and estuaries. They support the growth of algae and other aquatic plants that provide an important food resource for fish and other aquatic life.

However, human activity has contributed to excessive levels of nutrients reaching the waterways. Wastewater from towns and industries, failing sewage systems, runoff from row crop agriculture and animal operations, and over-fertilization have contributed excessive amounts of nutrients that harm the environment. Excessive nutrients lead to algal blooms, which can reduce oxygen available for fish and contribute to fish kills, and cause taste and odor problems for drinking water and nuisance problems for boating and swimming.

To reduce excessive nutrients, many communities have put in place stormwater controls for roads, parking lots and other developed areas. They’ve also maintained vegetative areas next to streams and lakes, improved wastewater treatment and reduced development density.

While those measures provide some protections, continuing problems with algal blooms, fish kills and augmented treatment requirements for drinking water are evidence that more must be done to protect the state’s aquatic resources.

The Environmental Protection Agency has strongly encouraged states to adopt numeric water quality standards for nitrogen and phosphorus thus potentially impacting the management of wastewater dischargers, local government ordinances, and agricultural and stormwater management rules and regulations.

During the forum, speakers from across the Environmental Protection Agency, state environmental agencies, the regulated community and research institutes and universities will discuss the science, the economics, and alternative approaches to numeric nutrient standards in North Carolina.

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Angie Newsome was the executive director and editor of Carolina Public Press. Contact her at (828) 774-5290 or e-mail her at

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