Climate Change, Nutrient Issues Among Top Threats For The Future


After working for six years with The Johnson Foundation at Wingspread on solutions to emerging threats in the water sector — climate change and nutrient pollution among them — Lynn Broaddus, director of The Johnson Foundation’s Environment Programs, shares her outlook for the future.

The following excerpt from Broaddus’ interview with Water Online Radio details some of the challenges that lay ahead, as well as what to do about them.

“I’ve noticed in the six years that The Johnson Foundation has been doing this work with the water sector, one of the things that we heard repeatedly from people was how stagnant the water industry was. …Today, we are seeing that has really flipped.

What are the drivers? Certainly, concern about climate change and the way climate change is impacting our water, both in terms of drought and in terms of too much water, but also pollution of our waterways.

We have too many nutrients going into our water stream and polluting our waters. …Those nutrients are really valuable and we need them for our farm fields. We need them for society.

So how can we do a better job of recovering those nutrients while not exacerbating climate change, while not spending more energy? You could spend more and more energy and just distill all the water. You can pull the nutrients out that way, but nobody wants to do that.

What are the opportunities? There’s some real low-hanging fruit as well as some new technologies that can allow us to do a better job of phosphorus and nitrogen recovery and removal from the waste stream. [There is] an interest in the industry to be able to stay ahead of regulation, wanting to do it as opposed to having to do it because of the regulatory hammer coming down.”

To hear more about the sustainable path forward for municipalities, tune into the full Water Online Radio interview.