The largest ocean hypoxic area, or dead zone, currently affecting the United States occurs in the northern Gulf of Mexico, adjacent to the mouth of the Mississippi River.
The dead zone, roughly the size of Connecticut, forms along the Louisiana and Texas coastlines each summer. It’s caused by agricultural runoff that is loaded with nitrogen and phosphorus, as well as a number of other sources, such as urban wastewater treatment facilities.
Phosphorus washes into the Mississippi River and eventually into the Gulf. Excess phosphorus in waterways can cause algae to grow and bloom, eating up oxygen and creating toxic conditions that threaten aquatic life in lakes, rivers and even the ocean.
The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago has taken a lead in dealing with this problem by transitioning its Stickney Water Reclamation Plant (WRP), the largest wastewater treatment facility of its kind in the world, into a water resource recovery facility.
Black & Veatch designed and built the world’s largest nutrient recovery facility at the Stickney WRP. The plant is providing an environmentally progressive solution to support the larger goal of reducing Gulf hypoxia.
“We used Black & Veatch’s expertise in phosphorus treatment, as well as process modeling, to optimize the sizing of the phosphorus recovery facility and achieve our goal for efficiency.”
Glenn Rohloff, Supervising Civil Engineer, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago