Forms found in stormwater:

Nitrogen in the form of nitrate (NO3-) nitrite (NO2-), ammonium ion ( NH4+)

Phosphorus in the form of phosphate (PO43-)

Solubility in water:

Nitrogen and phosphorus are very water soluble.

Adverse human impacts:

Increased nutrient concentrations in water (“eutrophication”) can cause nuisance or toxic algae blooms.[i] High nutrient loads are often associated with threats to human health including seafood contamination and bacteria from sewage and animal waste.[ii]

Adverse impacts on the environment:

Eutrophication and associate algae blooms decrease dissolved oxygen, light and habitat available for other aquatic species.[iii]

Stormwater Treatment to Remove Nutrients


 Nutrients are found in concentrations that can be harmful to the environment in a variety of places. Excess fertilizer that is not taken up by plants is transported into water bodies through both groundwater and surface water flows. Nutrients in fertilizer can be transported both in the solid and dissolved states. High concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus are also found in animal feces.

Dishwashing detergent is a common source for phosphorus entering the aquatic environment. Most dishwashing detergent is four to eight percent phosphate by weight which is about the same fraction as household fertilizers[v]

 In the United States, the use of phosphorus in laundry detergent has been limited since the early 1970’s[vi]

U.S. EPA recommended water quality criteria:

Nutrient water quality criteria vary depending on geographic location and type of water body.[iv]



[i] National Science & Tech. Council, An Assessment of Coastal Hypoxia and Eutrophication in U.S. Waters, 2 (2003) available at

[ii] See National Science & Tech. Council, supra.

[iii] National Science & Tech. Council, supra.

[iv] U.S. EPA, National Recommended Water Quality Criteria, (last visited July 7, 2010).

[v] Sierra Club, Limiting phosphorus in dish detergent (2006)

[vi] Chris Knud-Hansen, Historical Perspective of the Phosphate Detergent Conflict (1993) available at

Learn About Aquip
The StormwateRx Aquip® industrial filtration system uses an innovative enhanced sand filtration process to effectively remove soluble and insoluble aluminum and other metals as well as oils, suspended solids, organics and nutrients from industrial stormwater runoff.

Learn About Purus
The Purus™ Stormwater Polishing System (previously known as the AquiPlus) provides the most advanced level of stormwater treatment, and is designed for challenging stormwater conditions or targeted pollutant removal.

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