Sierran Masthead

Hoosier Chapter Initiates Nutrient Reduction Campaign

The Hoosier Chapter is working with Veolia Water and other stakeholders to reduce nutrients, particularly phosphorus, in the Indianapolis-area reservoirs. An abundance of nutrients leads to algae blooms, which can cause odor and taste problems in drinking water. Some algae are toxic, and in rare cases algae blooms can lead to pet poisonings and skin irritation for bathers.

For these reasons, the Department of Natural Resources sometimes allows using chemicals in the reservoirs to kill the algae. It would be much better, of course, to stop the nutrients from getting into the reservoirs in the first place.

Nitrogen and phosphorus are the main elements that cause the problem, but reducing phosphorus levels alone would control the algae. Two ways that phosphorus gets into the water are from lawn fertilizers and from eroded soil at construction sites.

The Hoosier Chapter will work with homeowners and businesses around the three reservoirs—Eagle Creek, Geist, and Morse—to reduce these sources. Since the soils are already high in phosphorus, fertilizers without that element will keep lawns green without turning our waters green as well. State law requires erosion control measures for construction sites, but they are not always followed. We would like to train volunteers to keep a lookout for sites that aren’t obeying the law and try to correct the problem.

This project will also help end the algal and odor problems that occur in neighborhood stormwater detention basins. We hope it will become a model that can be replicated in other areas that have these problems.

Anyone who wants to help with the project, or just learn more about it, can call the chapter office at (317) 822-3750 or contact conservation organizer Bowden Quinn by email.

Copyright © 2007 Hoosier Chapter Sierra Club, all rights reserved.[04/21/05]efp

Spring 2005