Phase II & III Management Areas
The NRD instituted Phase II Ground Water Management Areas near Bellwood in 2003 and Richland-Schuyler in 2004 to deal with elevated nitrate levels in groundwater. High nitrate levels in drinking water can be dangerous for infants, pregnant or nursing mothers, and people with respiratory or immune problems.
Phase II areas have several requirements for producers relating to water and soil sampling, reporting of fertilizer use, and timing restrictions for winter fertilizer applications.
Since the Phase II areas were put in place, parts of the Bellwood area have shown a slow but steady decline in nitrate levels. In March 2015, 11 of the 32 original sections in the Phase II area met the requirements to move back down to Phase I management.
Unfortunately nitrate levels have continued to rise in the Richland/Schuyler area. From 2011-2014, more than 60% of the sections in that area had more than 10 parts per million nitrate, the trigger level for moving to Phase III management. As a result, all 55 sections in the Richland-Schuyler Phase II area will move to Phase III on September 1, 2015. Ten sections directly north of the current area will move from Phase I to Phase II at the same time.
Each Phase area has certain requirements for producers using nitrogen fertilizer. These requirements are cumulative; in other words, all Phase I requirements apply in Phases II and III, and all Phase II requirements apply in Phase III.