5 Winners In Phosphorus Competition

5 Winners In Phosphorus Competition

Vermont Names 5 Winners In Phosphorus Competition, Hands Out Over $1M In Grants

The state is spending more than $1 million to jumpstart technologies aimed at removing phosphorus from the environment. The money will go to five projects, selected as part of the state's "phosphorus innovation challenge," designed to capture the pollutant and make it into a marketable product.

Phosphorus is an essential element plant and animals need to grow, but too much phosphorus running off into Vermont's waterways acts as a fertilizer and fuels toxic algae blooms.

The state has a huge phosphorus surplus: Vermont releases about 1,500 tons of excess phosphorus a year, according to Agency of Natural Resources Secretary Julie Moore.

More from VPR — Vermont's 'Jewels' Under Threat: Clearest, Cleanest Lakes Face Phosphorus Pollution [Aug. 5]

The state's phosphorus innovation challenge was announced back in February 2018. These five recently selected projects will make a dent, Moore said, but won't cut all the excess phosphorus out of Vermont's environment.

"Ultimately we need to be able to get that 1,500 tons down to zero, or ideally maybe a small negative number, to achieve our overall water quality goals," Moore said. "The scope and scale of these projects, while operating at a commercial scale, we don't believe collectively will be able to achieve that full 1,500 tons reduction."

But Moore said she's hopeful that if these businesses grow, they could ultimately lead to significant phosphorus reductions.

"To the extent they continue to prove successful environmentally but also economically [there's] opportunity to scale them up further with that 1,500-ton goal in mind," she said.

"Ultimately we need to be able to get that 1,500 tons [of excess phosphorus] down to zero, or ideally maybe a small negative number, to achieve our overall water quality goals." — ANR Secretary Julie Moore

Agrilab Technologies, in Enosburg Falls, was one of the state's five winners and received a $320,200 grant. Company founder Brian Jerose is working on ways to concentrate phosphorus from cow manure, add other material and turn it into compost that can be sold.

Jerose said he was inspired to work on the project in part because his family has experienced Lake Champlain water pollution.

"I've had my wife and daughters and I not be able to swim at times because of algae blooms in parts of northern Lake Champlain," Jerose said. "With that in mind, it's been really motivating to get involved to try to think of other ways beyond just regulatory compliance and the voluntary best management practices, to think of other ways that we can make a bigger dent — and a faster dent — in some of these phosphorus issues."

In addition to Agrilab Technologies, four other winners were announced Thursday at Gov. Phil Scott's weekly news conference:

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Vermont's 'Jewels' Under Threat: Clearest, Cleanest Lakes Face Phosphorus Pollution

By JOHN DILLON   AUG 5, 2019

A woman stands in a lake with a boat.

JOHN DILLON / VPR

SOURCE TO COMPLETE Vermont Public Radio ARTICLE ABOUT PHOSPHORUS REMOVAL IN VERMONT BY JOHN DILLON