Educational Materials: Nitrogen

Excess nitrogen in coastal waters can cause algal blooms, which degrade habitats, kill aquatic species, and harm food resources and industries such as shellfishing. And nitrogen in drinking water, even at low levels, is considered a health hazard by the EPA. The excess nitrogen found in local waters is the direct result of human activities, and it is often transported by stormwater. While agriculture, industry, and the large-scale use of fossil fuels all contribute nitrogen, the following resources offer education and outreach solutions that focus primarily on household sources.

Many residents realize that pet waste contains bacteria and other pathogens, but…

…DID YOU KNOW? Pet waste also contains nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus), and stormwater carries that waste along with the nutrients straight to our local waters.


Pet Care(page within RI Stormwater Solutions)

Install A Pet Waste Station(page within RI Stormwater Solutions)

Do You Scoop The Poop?(factsheet)

Only You Can Prevent POO-lution(Jamestown, RI brochure)

Clean Water Campaign(poster)

New Hampshire Pet Waste Outreach Campaign(external website)

When a septic system is not regularly inspected and pumped, it can cause the system to fail. That can be very unpleasant for a homeowner, and it also can contribute nitrogen to surface and ground waters.

DID YOU KNOW? Garbage disposals contribute unnecessary solids to your septic system. Avoid or significantly limit your use of garbage disposals in homes with septic systems, and it will extend the time required between pump-outs.


Septic Care(page within RI Stormwater Solutions)

How Healthy Is Your Septic System(factsheet)

The New England Onsite Wastewater Training Program(related URI website)

Data from studies across the country indicate that yard care is a significant contributor of nutrients (including nitrogen and phosphorus) to local waters.

DID YOU KNOW? Fertilizers are usually composed of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (N-P-K). Unfortunately, fertilizer that lands on sidewalks (or excess fertilizer on the lawn) is washed along with stormwater to our local waters. If your lawn doesn’t need fertilizer, then it’s much healthier for our water bodies not to fertilize!


Yard Care(page within RI Stormwater Solutions)

Turf Grass Madness(external website)

Minimizing Pollution and Maximizing the Effectiveness of Lawn Fertilizer(external website)

Pets are not the only ones contributing nutrients through their waste. Large animal manure can be a problem when not properly managed, and wildlife (especially waterfowl such as geese) can contribute significant amounts of waste to local waters.

DID YOU KNOW? Feeding waterfowl contributes to the problem! Not only is it unhealthy for waterfowl, it also causes them to congregate in larger numbers than they would naturally. And of course, that means more waste and more nutrients added to local waters.


Livestock(related URI website)

Why Is It Bad To Feed The Birds?(PDF)

Dealing With Canada Geese(external website)

Cleaning supplies, detergents, and soaps (including those used for cars) can contain nutrients. While phosphorus is more common than nitrogen, some high-strength industrial cleaners do contain excessive amounts of nitrogen.



Household Chemicals(page within Stormwater Solutions)

Auto Care(page within Stormwater Solutions)

Wash Your Car the Right Way(external brochure)

Sediment is a major source of pollution for local waters, and most sediment comes from the accelerated erosion caused by our land use practices.

DID YOU KNOW? Sediment can carry other pollutants with it, as it is transported by stormwater into local water bodies. Those pollutants include nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus.


Soil Erosion and Sediment Control(page within Stormwater Solutions)

DEM Soil Erosion and Sediment Control(external website)

What is Sediment Pollution(external website)

Keep Your Soil At Home(external website)