The Four Policy Goals: Healing the Nitrogen Wound

Know your stuff about saving Barnegat Bay from excess nitrogen. These are the four conceptual steps that must be taken by individuals and by government.

Nitrogen and Barnegat Bay in Brief:

The Four Policy Goals

The problem:

Barnegat Bay is like a garden getting too much fertilizer and no weeding. The excess nutrition the bay receives is in the form of nitrogen from multiple sources, lawn fertilizer being but one, and not the largest. This excess nitrogen produces algal blooms which severely disrupt the ecosystem to the point at which Barnegat Bay is currently one of the most threatened estuaries in the nation.

The four solutions, in concept:

When a raindrop falls in the State of New Jersey, it already has too much nitrogen in it. By picturing that falling raindrop, one can name the Four Public Policy Goals that must be achieved if we are to address the excessive nutrient loading to estuaries all over the world, starting with Barnegat Bay.

First, we must reduce the burning of fossil fuels so that the raindrop contains less nitrogen as it falls.

Second, we must restrain excessive development and conserve land in its natural state so that the nitrogen in the raindrop can be soaked up by a land plant rather than move over hard surfaces straight to the estuary where it becomes food for the algae.

Third, we must re-conceptualize and reconfigure storm water management. In the twentieth century we thought of successful storm water management as being achieved if there is no flooding after a storm event. In the twenty-first century we now know that for storm water management to be deemed successful there must, in addition to the volume of water being managed, be no excessive load of nutrients to the receiving water body. This means that as much stormwater as possible must be routed through planted areas where nitrogen can be removed before entering streams, rivers, lakes, and bays. In addition to implementing what we already know, this is an exciting new area for research and experimentation.

Fourth, we must not add more nitrogen once the raindrop has landed. This means primarily using lawn fertilizer properly and sparingly. But it also means cleaning up after your dog and not using urea based deicers on sidewalks in the winter.

Our job:

Is to conceive and implement specific steps to meet these Four Policy Goals.

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