Nutrients, meat and dairy

What are the potential sources of nutrients from the meat and dairy processing industry?

Wastewater that is discharged from a processing plant into a waterway will contain nutrients and suspended solids that can cause eutrophication and significantly reduce water clarity. On-site secondary and tertiary wastewater treatment can reduce the impacts of wastewater before it is discharged into a waterway.

Potential impacts of high nutrients on water quality and mahinga kai

  • Eutrophication - excess nutrients in lakes, estuaries, or slow-moving streams and rivers can lead to an increase in primary productivity (excessive plant and algal growth) that degrades water quality.
  • Loss of species - an increase in plant growth, sometimes called an algal bloom, reduces dissolved oxygen (DO) in the water when the plants die and decompose and can cause organisms (fish and invertebrates) to die. If this cycle happens repeatedly, species may be lost from the lake or waterway.
  • Loss of habitat - eutrophication of the water can kill off plants that fish depend on for their habitat and alter the lake bed habitat for invertebrate species.
  • Increased turbidity and decreased visibility - when algae increase in response to nutrients this reduces water clarity, visibility, and recreational suitability. It also reduces the ability of some fish to see prey or predators.

Learn more about the potential environmental impacts of nutrients in waterways


Research subject: Water Quality