A recent article in The Des Moines Register newspaper has caused considerable controversy regarding nitrogen in Iowa streams and rivers. The article (High ammonia levels threaten D.M.’s water, April 6, 2008) featured information about “ammonia” levels in certain Iowa surface water systems during the recent winter time period. The implications were that manure and fertilizer application to cropland, and subsequent snowmelt and runoff, had resulted in higher than normal “ammonia” levels in surface waters. In the article there was a comparison of the reported levels to an ammonia reading of 0.10 parts per million considered harmful to aquatic life.
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