31 May 2011

A couple of posts ago I mentioned the alacrity with which lake managers in the US make use of aquatic herbicides.  Seems this does not hold for everyone, as a report from Indiana explains “Last year, anglers blamed a lake-wide herbicide treatment of that plant for worsening the lake’s water clarity, sparking the growth of algae and reducing stands of native plants that provide habitat for fish“.  Lake Attitash, also mentioned recently, will spend $75000 to try and get rid of a milfoil invasion.  As they are already prone to blue-green algae, they may just end up with green soup!  St Petersburg (Florida), not the cold one, has joined the list of towns banning fertilizers for lawns this summer – “From June through September, residents can’t buy or apply those fertilizers. The ban is intended to protect waterways from algae blooms and fish kills“. Read more »

DHEC surveys links between toxic algae and motor neuron disease

29 May 2011

In a first for South Africa, Dr Bill Harding from DH Environmental Consulting (DHEC) will conduct a research survey to test for links between cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) and neurodegenerative diseases (Motor Neuron Disease, MND; Parkinsons Dementia Complex, PDC;  and Alzheimers). Read more »


28 May 2011

The Goulburn-Murray Water Scheme has announced that the algal alert for Little Lake Charm has been lifted.  The Tampa City Council (Florida) will soon consider banning the sale and use of fertilizer containing nitrogen or phosphorus during the summer rainy season.  The investigation into the algae problems at Lake Wanaka (NZ) has been completed and measures to reduce algal growth, as opposed to building a treatment plant, look like being the solution.  If these measures target the nutrient loading, then it should be a success. Read more »

Whistleblowing the Hartbeespoort Dam project

27 May 2011

Sunset over Hartbeespoort Dam (Photo: Bill Harding)

Last year, Garry Mackay, former Chairperson of the Hartbeespoort Dam Water Action Group (HWAG), sent a detailed letter (link here) to the Minister of Water Affairs, drawing attention to a slew of problems with the management and running of the Hartbeespoort Dam Remediation Project.  Garry has spent a good portion of his life acting for and on behalf of Harties and has a long-standing interest in seeing the water quality problems alleviated.  For him to blow the whistle on the project indicated that something was seriously wrong. Read more »

South Africa’s eutrophication nemesis: Hartbeespoort Dam

26 May 2011

We cannot continue to ignore the elephants! (Photo: Bill Harding)

nemesis“,  a term for an enemy or archenemy, a person(s) or action(s) that preclude(s) effective progress

Any discussion of eutrophication in South Africa will, invariably, include mention of Hartbeespoort Dam (‘Harties’).  The recent reporting on Midmar Dam was no exception, with the”if we are not careful, our dam will become like Harties” argument.  These discussions all skirt around the enormous elephant present in the room, this pachyderm representing the spectacular lack of success in making any positive progress towards improving the ecosystem health of Hartbeespoort Dam.   Read more »


25 May 2011

Three dogs have died in Holland (Flevoland Province) after coming into contact with blue-green algae.  As a consequence, beaches in several provinces have been closed. Cyanobacterial blooms are very common in the many shallow Dutch polder lakes and cause massive economic disruption during the warm season. Read more »

Information Bill and Apathy

25 May 2011

Well, the Information Bill issue appeared rather quickly after the elections!  Surprise, or perhaps not?  So much for giving democratic effect to the will of the people – or do the people just not care about this massive infringement of their rights?

This reminds me of something written by a resident of Prague and who suffered the considerable iniquities of being denied just about any freedom at all.  She wrote:

It is not hard for a totalitarian regime to keep people ignorant.  Once you relinquish your freedom for the sake of ‘understood necessity’,  for Party discipline, for conformity with the regime, for the greatness and glory of the Fatherland, or any of the substitutes that are so convincingly offered, you cede your claim to the truth. Slowly, drop by drop, your life begins to ooze away just as surely as if you had slashed your wrists; you have voluntarily condemned yourself to helplessness“.

South Africans, you get what you voted for.  Enjoy.


24 May 2011

The weather is warming up in the US and in Oregon (where all that nice pine came from) the routine annual lake testing for blue-green algae is about to kick-off.  Grand Lake St Mary’s has vomited up masses of algae and the warning signs are going up.  They will need to add “Not So…” in front of this lake’s name soon.  The use of chemicals to control algae and plants in lakes in the US is a huge industry and they love using all sorts of herbicides to keep their waterways clear.  Not sure that I agree with this approach but there it is.  The Pompton Lakes (Jersey) are coming up for a dosing and I found an interesting comment from a reader – which shows that some people are properly informed (the last sentence is insightful): “I am surprised that algae or anything else grows in Pompton Lake, after Dupont dosed it with toxic chemicals for the last 100 years. Where do you think the high levels of mercury found in fish in the lake came from? The least the billion dollar profit making corporate giant Dupont could do is pony up some money to restore the daamge they’ve done in Pompton lakes! And the algae are growing due to overloads of pollutants (nutrients, phosphorus and nitrogen) and sediments caused by over-development in the watershed. Chemical treatment is NOT the answer – it is a costly band aid that causes its own environmental problems. The solution is t reduce the pollution and better aerate the pond”. Read more »

Not all toxic algae float…

23 May 2011


Typical blue-green algal scum in a farm dam (Photo: Bill Harding)

The commonest form of blue-green algal blooms in lakes and ponds are of the floating, scum-forming variety.  These are easy to spot as the water is very green, often paint-like, scums form at the edges, either in the water or on the rocks. Read more »


23 May 2011

China has acknowledged that the Three Gorges Dam is becoming a huge headache, not least because of mounting pollution levels – gee, wasn’t that predictable?  Its a huge dam that is influencing local climate, creating small earthquakes (remember Kariba?) and “Both upstream and downstream, the flow of water is no longer fast enough to flush rubbish and toxic elements away. A report last year found that the Yangtze’s tributaries and lakes were contaminated with high levels of copper, zinc, lead and ammonium.”   The Three Gorges is such an immense dam that proactive management is almost impossible.  With smaller dams, however, ones that are more closely balanced to the upstream  catchment hydrology, can have reliable management plans in place before the dam is even filled. Its even easier for small developments (see here). Read more »