Letter: Wellington Work With Haulers Is Important

The recent Town-Crier article “Wellington Keeps Close Contact With Manure Haulers” (Aug. 28) was most welcome to this reader, a citizen of the central western communities and an environmental biogeochemist researcher studying phosphorus pollution in the C-51 Basin.

Ever since the South Florida Water Management District and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers made the Acme Improvement District do something about phosphorus pollution emanating from the equestrian industry in Basin B, things have been getting better, slowly. Best management practices (BMPs), such as having to prove a need for phosphorus before certain fertilizers can be applied to lawns, certainly helps.

Many properties in my hometown of Loxahatchee Groves have ruptured the envelope regarding accepting horse manure and soiled bedding from Wellington for tipping fees. One nursery in Loxahatchee Groves had manure and bedding piled four feet thick over many acres and, after a heavy rain, the first drainage from their pipe contained nearly 8 milligrams of phosphorus per liter (about 7,958 parts per billion). I did the test three times and needed five dilutions to get it within the high range scale. This reveals the potential for unbelievable phosphorus pollution in the C-51 Basin. Remember, the target for the Everglades is 10 ppb.

Thus, ordinances in Loxahatchee Groves and the discussions that Mike O’Dell has with Wellington haulers are welcomed, and slowly should help get the phosphorus contents of surface waters, both drainage and percolating through the surficial aquifer, to acceptable levels, so that the Everglades and the Lake Worth Lagoon can avoid algal blooms and ecosystems upsets.

My past studies have shown that horse manure here has about six milligrams of phosphorous extractable only with water per gram dry weight. With 454 grams per pound, that equates to 2.7 grams of phosphorus per pound of manure. Given the enormity of the horse population, especially during the festival season, one can easily deduce the potential and reality of phosphorus pollution.

In the article, Mr. O’Dell is cited as detailing the enormous amounts of wood chips that are generated and the need for a “consistent location” to haul to by the truckers. At a Wellington Village Council meeting that I attended within the past two years, the firm of Equine Eco Green presented a plan to develop a public-private partnership with the Village of Wellington. I was rather taken aback when Councilwoman Anne Gerwig dismissed further discussion by stating that problems derived from the horse industry were not in the village’s purview. Now I see that some in the village are working with the haulers. This is good. Since a huge part of the Equine Eco Green process is the recycling of the wood chips that are the bedding, perhaps a rethink by the village as to the viability of that enterprise is needed. Given the socio-economic impact of the equestrian industry in spilling out of the village and throughout the county, maybe the county could join the effort.

It must be noted here that I have no economic or other links to Equine Eco Green, other than I have reviewed their process and found it to be environmentally sound. I thank you for your time and consideration.

Dr. J. William “Bill” Louda, Loxahatchee Groves

Editor’s note: Dr. Louda is a research professor at Florida Atlantic University.