Indiana may continue to ignore eutrophication

27 January 2012

Wilful ignorance of the long-term dangers of allowing an excess of nutrients into the world’s rivers, waterways and lakes is a major problem, the risks about which only a few countries and states and cities have acknowledged.  Indiana does not appear to be amongst the enlightened few:

Indiana Department of Environmental Management is finally taking steps to address phosphorus pollution that has caused taste and odor compounds in drinking water as well as human health risks in Indiana’s lakes and reservoirs.

However, it appears the state Legislature will again turn its back on the phosphorus problem, the primary cause of lake eutrophication and resulting algal blooms.

“It is not likely that House Bill 1032 will get a hearing,” Casey Arqawi, press secretary for state Rep. Dick Dodge, R-Pleasant Lake, said on Monday. “It seems there is no time for it to be heard because of a combination of the bill being re-committed and the walkout by the minority party. “

Here’s a very interesting and positive action being taken in Brockton (Ontario, Canada):

People living near Brockton’s Lake Rosalind and Marl Lake will be asked to vote on whether to ban fertilizers in the area. Blue green algae blooms in the summer frequently mean the water is not safe to drink. A special edition of the Brockton Buzz will be sent out soon with instructions on how to vote. There will be one vote per house hold on three options: the first- to ban all fertilizers except home compost; the second – to ban fertilizers containing phosphorus; and the third – no ban at all. Lake Rosalind Property Owners Association member, Pat Mulhern says the feelings among residents are mixed…

Lets hope the education programme has been up to spec so that the vote is fully informed?

Lake Texoma’s 2011/12 algal problems must be going for a world record (although, if we had similar warning regulations in South Africa, some of our lakes would win hands-down):

New tests show blue-green algae still present in Lake Texoma, and it’s growing.

Several factors cause blue-green algae to grow. We need more rain and a hard freeze, but apparently sunshine and warmer temperatures around the area has fed the algae, making it grow even more.

“If we could get some good soaking rain across the basin, it’d be nice if we could get the basin back up to normal and even flush some of the water in Texoma out.   There’s a side to that also, that when you get more rain it also brings more nutrients.” said Paul Balkenbush, Environmental Specialist.

Competing with Texoma for regularity of reports is Lake Torrens  in Adelaide, Australia:

South Australian Health is advising people to avoid contact with water in the River Torrens, downstream from the Torrens Lake Weir, due to the detection of blue green algae.  The warning follows detection of increased numbers of blue-green algae in samples collected from the lake this week.

SA Health’s Director of Public Health, Dr Kevin Buckett, said people should avoid direct contact with the water between the Torrens Lake Weir through to the river mouth at Henley.

“This includes avoiding swimming or putting your feet in the water to cool off.

“People should also stop their dog or pets from swimming or drinking the water.

“Dogs are particularly at risk as the organisms can stick to their coat and owners should keep them away from affected water.”

The algae present produces a toxin that can affect the nervous system and can cause nausea and gastrointestinal upsets if ingested. It can also cause skin rashes and eye irritation.

In New South Wales and in New Zealand, some warnings have been lifted:

With the recent rainfall across the coast, the outbreak of blue-green algae reported in the Coldstream River at Tucabia has dissipated.

North Coast Regional Algal Co-ordinating Committee spokesperson, Brian Dodd, said recent sampling results indicated that levels of blue-green algae in the Coldstream River had dropped and the algal alert warning could be lifted.

“Although the blue-green algae is not a threat at present, users of Coldstream River are asked to be vigilant and keep an eye out for a recurrence of blue-green algae as blooms can develop in a 24 hour period,” he said.

The Community and Public Health division of the Canterbury District Health Board has lifted its algal bloom health warning, issued on November 3, 2011, at Te Wairewa/Lake Forsyth.

Recent water testing at Te Wairewa/Lake Forsyth has shown the quantity of potentially toxic algae (planktonic cyanobacteria) in the lake has decreased and concentrations are now below the levels that are of concern to public health.

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