In order to solve the issue of eutrophication in America, the policy plan must include several steps to tackle the issue from several fronts. As previously stated in the Options memo, some steps could include implementing research, monitoring programs, raising awareness, implementing and enforcing regulations and creating incentives. All of these options have benefits to helping eutrophication, but what is the priority?
The first priority for a policy to solve eutrophication is raising awareness. In order to solve the problem, people need to know what the problem is and what it causes. “Environmental education may be the most important avenue for addressing the indirect drivers of eutrophication” (Selman & Greenhalgh, 2018). As many Americans don’t know what eutrophication is, they are completely unaware of the things they are doing that contribute to the issue. Raising awareness in rural areas where farming and agriculture is a common practice would benefit the individual communities and start to lower the problem.
The second priority for a policy to solve eutrophication is implementing research and monitoring programs. “Research, monitoring, and evaluation activities are essential for characterizing the nature of the eutrophication problem, providing information and support tools to inform policies, and establishing effective measures for managing and reducing nutrient losses” (Selman & Greenhalgh, 2018). Eutrophication is a process that takes time to occur, but once it’s started it’s extremely hard to reverse. Finding data on nutrient levels in areas where agricultural runoff is common and monitoring it over time is a way to fully understand eutrophication and stop it before it’s too late. Not only is researching data on eutrophication important, but researching different technologies and processes to solve eutrophication is also key in this step. “In addition to the need for adequate data about eutrophication and its effects, it is important to support research and development of technologies, processes, and practices for mitigating and controlling nutrient losses” (Selman & Greenhalgh, 2018).
The third priority for a policy to solve eutrophication is implementing and enforcing regulations. This is one of the most straightforward, effective ways to control eutrophication. There are a few regulations, or standards, that can be used to help not only the watersheds, but also prevent nutrient loss for farms. One standard is limiting the amount of algae-eating organisms, like oysters, that are harvested. This would keep algae at an acceptable level and benefit the organisms in the water. Another standard is regulating the amounts of nitrates and phosphates. Not all areas in the United States require such nutrient-rich soil. Regulating the amounts of nitrate and phosphate in soils could be very beneficial to lowering the effects of eutrophication. Processing standards are a great way to lower nutrient loss. Setting “standards for developers that require new developments to manage stormwater runoff and use design practices with low environmental impact” helps specifically with nutrient loss through runoff (Selman & Greenhalgh, 2018).
The fourth and final priority for a policy to solve eutrophication would be placing incentives and ecotax for an individuals / companies compliance or defiance of regulations put in place in the last step. Placing taxes or fees on people or companies that don’t follow regulations or placing taxes on items that contribute to eutrophication negatively is a good policy to dissuade pollution. On the other hand, offering incentives can “encourage farmers to implement best management practices that will reduce nutrient and soil loss on farms” (Selman & Greenhalgh, 2018).
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