With phosphorus and nutrient run-off in the news these days, NEW Water is working on its own phosphorus reduction plan, in order to meet its permit requirements with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
In lieu of facility upgrades to further reduce phosphorus discharge, estimated to cost more than $100 million, the DNR is allowing point sources, such as NEW Water, to pursue Adaptive Management (AM), which would allow utilities to work with partners in the watershed to reduce phosphorus.
NEW Water considers the issue a community-wide problem needing a community-wide solution. NEW Water undertook the Silver Creek Watershed Pilot Project starting in 2014 to gain firsthand experience in phosphorus and sediment reductions through partnerships with nonpoint sources.
Many stakeholders collaborated on the Silver Creek project, which included: field and stream surveying, inventory of stream bank erosion and in-stream sediment deposition, soil and stream bank sediment sampling plan, stream monitoring, landowner interviews, field walks, installation of best management practices (BMPs), and analysis of data. The Silver Creek team included agronomists, who worked with farmers throughout this 4,800-acre sub-watershed, in attempts to achieve .075 mg/liter phosphorus levels in the stream, per state water quality standards as set out by the Wisconsin State Legislature. A U.S. Geological Survey monitoring station has been set up to take samples, as a variety of BMPs are implemented. Water quality monitoring continues during and after the pilot project. The data set is scientifically demonstrating the impact of the project.
Partners on the Silver Creek Project include the Oneida Nation, US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), US Geological Survey (USGS), UW Green Bay, Brown County and Outagamie County Land and Water Conservation Departments, The Nature Conservancy, Ducks Unlimited, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and the private agronomists. Jacobs has been retained to facilitate the project.
Project funders include The Fund for Lake Michigan, NRCS, and Ducks Unlimited and NRDA. This project has also received a $1.67 million grant from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under an assistance agreement to NEW Water. The contents of this document do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Environmental Protection Agency, nor does the EPA endorse trade names or recommend the use of commercial products mentioned in this document.