30 June 2011

OK, lets get June up to date while its still June!

Lets start in Nova Scotia where algal scum has been noticed creeping across the top of Yarmouth County’s Lake Vaughan. Other Yarmouth County lakes including Ogden and Fanning are also reported to be in bloom.  Geographically close-by in Washington, the latest samples from Anderson Lake contain more than 1,000 times the safe level of a potent neurotoxin, the highest level of the algae-created poison seen at the popular fishing hole since it set a deadly world record in 2008.  Test results received Friday showed 1,112 micrograms per liter of anatoxin-a, for which the safe level is 1 microgram per liter. “It’s the most since 2008,” said Greg Thomason, Jefferson County environmental health specialist. In 2008, Anderson Lake water contained 172,640 micrograms per liter of anatoxin-a!  Green Lake (also in Washington) has three types of cyanobacteria present and toxins.

In Canada, residents who live on a section of Sturgeon Lake near Fenelon Falls have been given the go ahead by the health unit to start using their water again. Toxin levels have also fallen in the back channel area of Pigeon Lake and in Big Bald Lake where blue-green algae blooms were reported last Friday.

From Hopewell (Virginia) comes news that last years taste and odour problems may repeat themselves in 2011.  Last year, Hopewell water customers had to endure drinking water that smelled bad and tasted foul. While the water was deemed safe to drink, it wasn’t a pleasant experience, according to Hopewell residents. The presence of blue green algae (BGA) in (Not so) Grand Lake at Bernice State Park has prompted the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality and the GRDA to remind lake visitors to avoid contact with the water at the state park.

An elevated cyanobacteria cell concentration has been measured along the west shoreline of Bear Island on Lake Winnipesaukee in Meredith. Samples revealed that the state standard of 50-percent or greater of the total cells from the bloom were identified as cyanobacteria. As a result, the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) has issued a cyanobacteria lake warning for those who recreate around Bear Island. The Ohio Department of Health’s new beach safety website allows Ohioans to check for E. coli bacteria and/or harmful algal bloom advisories at the 62 monitored beaches at Lake Erie and state parks (wow!).

High levels of microcystis algae were recently detected at Spy Pond (Arlington) during water sampling performed by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.   Last summer brought more outbreaks of potentially dangerous blue-green algae in New York lakes and ponds than any summer in memory, and conditions so far this year are conducive to new outbreaks.  Some residents in a western Wisconsin city are taking a closer look at what’s in the water. The six lakes that make up the Chetek chain are an important part of the local economy, especially in the summer.

Hamilton (Australia) residents have been urged to ensure their household grey water is disposed of properly during winter to avoid a toxic outbreak of blue-green algae in Lake Hamilton and other water sources.  Southern Grampians Shire Council has warned grey water from washing machines and showers usually contains phosphorus from detergents and washing powder and is one of the nutrients causing blue-green algae growth in Lake Hamilton.  Good news here is that the Lake Hamilton algae levels recorded recently have declined to satisfactory limits for recreation activities including swimming, sail boarding, water skiing, boating and fishing to recommence.

Everyone knows, or should know, that urban stormwater contains a lot of pollutants. The Norman City Council listened to hours of expert testimony and public comment Tuesday night as highly contentious storm water issues were debated at City Hall before a packed house.  Agricultural producers in northeastern Indiana have a new tool in their belt to improve water quality, here in Indiana and all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. It’s called the two-stage ditch, and it mimics the design of natural stream channels, slowing the flow of water and reducing bank scouring.

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