Letter to the editor: Nature has been good at policing phosphorus
Before we all inhabited Vermont there was a small population of indigenous people. Life was very hard and the population was small. Swamps were prevalent in and around Lake Champlain and its rivers. Agriculture was also very small. No paved highways. The land could absorb a greater percentage of phosphorus than it can today.
The phosphorus would enter the lake naturally — that which did not get caught from soaking into the soil. The wastewater plants today contribute less than 10% to the lake as opposed to years ago, which was before phosphorus removal was implemented. So mostly all the phosphorus is removed in wastewater plants by removing the heavy sediment or sludge.
So are we going to remove the sediment in the whole lake that passed into it before the wastewater plants did? Probably an astronomical amount but now most of it is coming from just running off the land. Are we going to restore all the swamps where they once were or is this impossible? Obviously the phosphorus cycle that occurred when the indigenous people lived here is out of balance!
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