Everyone, not least the water regulator, needs to realize that fixing our burgeoning eutrophication problem is going to take many, many years – and the longer we leave off getting started, the longer it will take before we see benefits. The cleanup coordinator for Lake Champlain, Julie Moore, recently made this point as she moved on to new pastures. She summed up “So just doing the math, it’s a 50-year plan. And frankly, it will take longer,” she said. “We’ve been picking the low-hanging fruit in our (clean-up) work. Solutions are going to get more technically challenging and expensive.” South Africa has been dodging the expensive option, in vain search for a silver bullet, for decades – and continues to do so. At the same time, climate change will result in a higher frequency of toxic algal blooms, with the duration of such blooms becoming increasingly sustained. The effect of these changes on human and animal health are expected with 30 years.
Algal alerts have been issued for the Waipara River and Henley Lake, while a phosphorus sequestering chemical, Aqual P, is being tested at Lake Rotoiti (New Zealand). In Australia, coastal zone eutrophication may have resulted in a bloom of the dinoflagellate Karlodinium micrum, resulting in fish deaths.
The debate about whether we should manage nutrients entering surface waters continues – those with the patience for this can read about it here. A pertinent conclusion is that “The privileged [read industrialists] won’t always act in the interests of all people’, and that the planet has been “fertilized to death“, as phosphorus pollution thresholds have been exceeded. Ironically, while our waters contain too much phosphorus, global supplies of this vital element are running out.