16 June 2011

Nodularia spumigena bloom (Photo: Bill Harding)

A day or so ago I mentioned snake oil remedies for eutrophic lakes.  Here’s another one that crops up from time to time – adding silica to lakes to supposedly promote the growth of diatoms (which use silica to build their cell walls) and outcompete noxious algae such as blue-greens.  Apparently it has been tried (without success) in Not So Grand Lake St Marys (Ohio).   This notion is nothing other than stupid and demonstrates a blinding lack of understanding of a whole lot of biology, not least algal physiology, periodicity, seasonal succession and so the list goes on.  How lake managers let themselves into this “blind leading the blind” situation is hard to tell – but it seems to happen repeatedly. Bottom-up management of nature has few options that will work without making a bigger mess.  Of course, Ohio is also where non-contact with water containing cyanobacteria rules have been relaxed. Hopefully for them the epidemiological studies don’t link BMAA to recreational exposure – if they do, well their ambulance-chasing lawyers will have a field-day!

Oldham and Furnace Ponds (Pembroke, Massachusetts) have been closed.  I see that the managers plan to use phycomycin to control the algae – they should take the opportunity to do a whole foodweb examination and see what else it controls…  In Halifax, an advisory warning against recreational activity in West Monponsett Pond has been posted after [the] recent discovery of the blue-green algae near the state boat ramp.

The European Commission is referring Spain to the EU Court of Justice for breaching two pieces of EU environment legislation. In the first case, Spain is failing to ensure that waste water from agglomerations with more than 10,000 inhabitants that discharge into sensitive areas is properly treated. In the second case, Spain has failed to submit its plans for managing river basins to the Commission. Good for them, wave a decent stick and get things done properly!


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