Potential societal and economic impacts of wastewater nutrient removal and recycling

Water Sci Technol. 2003;48(1):11-7.


Because adequate nutrient controls were not established when there were past opportunities to do so, nutrient pollution of estuaries and coastal waters has resulted in the impairment of ecosystems and major reductions or collapse of fisheries at numerous sites around the world, resulting in major economical and societal impacts. The root of the problem is that the political policies and processes have permitted municipalities, developers, industries and farmers to expand and operate without paying the full cost of their activities, and this has been done at the expense of those who rely on the productivity and recreational value of our estuarine and coastal waters. Some governments have developed remedial nutrient control programs, but most of them have been under funded and inadequately enforced, resulting in small increments of progress that tend to be lost because of inadequate land use and immigration controls. It is believed that nutrient recovery and controlled reuse can provide a major tool for the control of nutrient pollution and should be widely implemented. Plans are currently being developed to promote widespread use of nutrient recovery and reuse in the Chesapeake Bay region of the USA. An example of phosphorus reuse is presented.

MeSH terms

  • Conservation of Natural Resources / economics*
  • Environment*
  • Nitrogen / isolation & purification
  • Phosphorus / isolation & purification
  • Policy Making*
  • Politics
  • Recreation
  • Waste Disposal, Fluid / economics*
  • Waste Disposal, Fluid / methods*
  • Water Pollution / prevention & control*


  • Phosphorus
  • Nitrogen