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What Can Be Done by Policymakers?

As Eutrophication is such a tricky topic, creating policy to combat it can be hard. Here are a few things that can be done by policymakers to try and counter the effects of eutrophication.

Implement Research and Monitoring Programs, Raise Awareness

The initial move for policymakers is implementing research and monitoring programs on eutrophication.  As such a new issue in such a fragile environment it’s important to know exactly what is going on and monitoring areas that could be affected or are already affected. This research and monitoring program idea would “characterize the effects of eutrophication, collect water quality data, and inform adaptive management strategies” (Selman & Greenhalgh, 2018). Knowing information about the problem is the first step in implementing strategies to fix it, and the more people that know, the better.  Raising awareness for eutrophication could help communities “build a foundation and support for effective actions to reduce nutrient losses and eutrophication” (Selman & Greenhalgh, 2018).  This can help more rural communities where they rely on local farmers.  Teaching about the issue through campaigns and programs and educating the public on ways to lower/ eliminate their contribution to nutrient runoff.  The cost of these two solutions would be low. Raising awareness would have minimal costs, and research and monitoring programs would be low as well. The benefit would be high, as more information would be known about the topic and gaining support from the community can be very beneficial when it comes to rolling out regulations.

Implementing and Enforcing Regulations 

Implementing more regulations to lower nutrient loss is another option for policy makers.  Creating standards on the use of soil by requiring it to stop using additives that can harm the water systems is a big step to helping the problem of eutrophication. Regulating and controlling runoff is another step for policy making.  Requiring that soil be made so it is safe when it inevitably runs off is an easy regulation to put in place.  Placing a pollution cap on certain areas that are greatly affected by eutrophication would also help. The cost to this would be moderate, as regulations can be pricey to implement. However, the benefit would be high, as harmful soils and irrigation practices would no longer be allowed.  Another benefit could include revenue, as those who don’t follow regulations would be fined.

Creating Incentives

Creating incentives to encourage people to use safe farming practices is also a way to improve eutrophication through policy.  These incentives can be made by “using taxes and fees, subsidies, or environmental markets” to encourage these nutrient reducing actions (Selman & Greenhalgh, 2018). Giving these incentives through tax breaks is a common way to encourage people to change their current behavior.  The cost of this would be minimal. In the case of tax cuts, there would be a loss of revenue in the money we would be receiving, however the money we would save in future reparations of our watersheds balances out this cost.  The benefit would be high, as the incentives would encourage people to use better and safer soil and irrigation practices and would decrease water pollution at a lower level.


Selman, M., & Greenhalgh, S. (2018, September 26). Eutrophication: Policies, Action, and Strategies to Address Nutrient Pollution. Retrieved October 20, 2020, from https://www.wri.org/publication/eutrophication-policies-action-and-strategies-address-nutrient-pollution

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