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Village of Glendale Heights
Village of Glendale Heights
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Reduce Your Phosphorus Impact

Golf of Mexico

The red section illustrates the 8,000 square mile dead zone that is occurring in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Glendale Heights Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP), formally known as the Water Polution Control Facility (WPCF), staff have been working hard with engineers from Trotter and Associates, Inc. to optimize the plant processes and reduce the amount of nutrients in the plant's effluent. This is important because nutrient pollution is a long term problem that has reduced the water quality in the rivers and streams that lead to the Mississippi River and eventually to the Gulf of Mexico. The reduced water quality has impaired the habitat for many aquatic species.

Currently, the water you use in your home or business flows through the sewer system to the WWTP. From there it is treated to remove solids and organic compounds. It is then disinfected to reduce pathogens, and discharged to the Armitage Ditch. This flows to the East Branch of the DuPage river, leading to the Illinois River, then the Mississippi River, and ultimately to the Gulf of Mexico. Each of these bodies of water is considered to be "impaired" by the Illinois EPA Clean Water Act Section 303(d) List. This means that it cannot function as it naturally is intended to function, primarily due to pollution from human activities. One such pollutant is phosphorus.

Water Flow

Phosphorus is a limiting nutrient for plant growth. This means that plants will grow until they run out of phosphorus. It is naturally occurring, and a little bit of it is essential for life and growth to occur. However, it is also an additive to many chemical cleaners and is used as fertilizer. The use of these products has resulted in an excess of phosphorus in waterways, leading to harmful algal blooms (HAB's).

Water Conditions
Healthy Hypoxic

When a surplus of phosphorus is available, algae are able to rapidly overgrow into blooms. When the blooms eventually die, the decomposition depletes the oxygen levels and can lead to hypoxic zones. A hypoxic zone is an area of the water where the oxygen content is too low to support some life forms. When this happens, fish and other marine life cannot live in that area and it is referred to as a "dead zone".

Dead Zones

Algea on Water

Water quality after a bad algal bloom in an Illinois river can have a paint-like appearance from the overgrowth.

In an effort to improve the water quality in rivers and streams in DuPage County, the DuPage River Salt Creek Work Group (DRSCW) was formed. Glendale Heights is a member of this group, along with other municipalities which are along the DuPage River or Salt Creek. As a member of this group, Glendale Heights has committed to help reduce phosphorus loadings from the WWTP. In order to remain compliant with discharge permits, a study has been completed to determine the best ways to optimize the plant processes for nutrient removal. As community members you can help the Village by reducing the amount of phosphorus you send down the train. By doing this, you'll be reducing the amount of phosphorus that needs to be removed at the WWTP and helping improve water quality not just in Illinois, but in the Mississippi River and as far as the Gulf of Mexico. Every little bit counts!

How can you help?

  • Fertilizer
    • Use low-phosphorus or phosphorus-free fertilizer unless growing new grass.
    • Only apply on impervious surfaces.
    • Use only the recommended amount.
    • Apply when sunny, dry weather is expected.
  • Detergents/Household Cleaners
    • Choose phosphate-free detergents, soaps, and household cleaners.
    • Only run your clothes or dish washer when you have a full load.
    • Use the appropriate amount of detergent; more is not better.
  • Car Washing
    • Buy green cleaning products that are phosphate free if they will be washed down the storm sewer
    • Try to wash cars on pervious surfaces so water is absorbed, rather than washing into storm sewers
  • Pet Waste
    • Always pick up after your pet.
    • Avoid walking your pet near streams and other waterways. Instead, walk them in grassy areas, and parks where the grounds are pervious.
    • Be aware of where the storm sewers in your neighborhood are located. Be cautious not to allow waste to wash down these drains.