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Cortland Standard Highlights Farm Runoff

As our local lakes continue to struggle with a variety of challenges, an important one that is often overlooked was discussed in a recent Cortland Standard article: farm runoff. Researched and written by staff reporter Brittany Perry, the article outlines some of the key issues of this difficult topic.

According to the article, the EPA has identified farm runoff as the principal source for excessive nutrients in our waters. Nutrient pollution consists of excessive amounts of nitrogen and phosphorous in our lakes. According to the EPA:

Too much nitrogen and phosphorus in the water causes algae to grow faster than ecosystems can handle. Significant increases in algae harm water quality, food resources and habitats, and decrease the oxygen that fish and other aquatic life need to survive. Large growths of algae are called algal blooms and they can severely reduce or eliminate oxygen in the water, leading to illnesses in fish and the death of large numbers of fish. Some algal blooms are harmful to humans because they produce elevated toxins and bacterial growth that can make people sick if they come into contact with polluted water, consume tainted fish or shellfish, or drink contaminated water.

As Amanda Barber of Cortland County Soil and Water Conservation District points out, “agricultural runoff is not the only cause of of pollution”. Indeed, the EPA identifies several sources of nutrient pollution including stormwater, wastewater, and individual property owners.

Local farmers are making efforts to minimize this problem. Mike McMahon, owner of E-Z Acres Dairy Farm has hired a nutrition management specialist and Kathy Arnold of Twin Oaks Dairy Farm has created a buffer zone along the Tioughnioga river where it runs by her farm.

Cooperation and collaboration across many groups is necessary to ensure the ongoing viability of our lakes.

Read the full article here.

Nutrient Pollution Explained