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Runoff Nutrient Pollution

Algae is a green substance that lives on the surface of Iowa lakes and ponds. While some types of algae are normal, most algae on top of water are harmful to all living life. Algae becomes harmful because of runoff. Runoff occurs when there is more water than land can absorb and is a major source of water pollution. When runoff occurs, it collects litter, chemicals, fertilizers, petroleum, sewage, medical waste and other toxic substances. This excess material is then dumped into our bodies of water.

Prairie Links Golf Course, Waverly, Iowa

Driving Question

  • How can the number of runoff pollutants in Iowa lakes and ponds be reduced? 

Probing Question

  • Where might the overabundance of nutrients be coming from?
  • Why would it be dangerous to go swimming in golf course ponds? 
  • What are the reasons that nutrients are used on grass and crops?

Classroom Suggestions

Students could:

  • This phenomena could be used for a lesson on watersheds.
  • This phenomena could be used for a lesson on water systems and the hydrosphere.
  • This lesson could be used discussing what your students and community can do to decrease their own contribution to environmental pollution.
  • This phenomena could be used for a lesson on plants and fertilizing (nutrients from farming and lawn care are the main cause of runoff pollution) to discuss eutrophication. The topic of eutrophication could be used as an extension opportunity for proficient learners.

Relevant Related Resources

Iowa Core Alignment

Obtain and combine information about ways individual communities use science ideas to protect the Earth’s resources and environment.

Credit Info

Phenomena submitted by Lexi Brown and Marlee Boyle

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