Blue-green algal blooms close Lake Erie beaches

17 July 2013

All beaches in the Chatham-Kent area of Lake Erie (Canada) have been closed as a result of dense cyanobacterial blooms. There is a stunning photo of a bloom off this shoreline at this link.

The Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit is advising the public to avoid exposure to the blue green algae.

  • Do not swim or wade in any water when a noticeable green surface scum or green discolouration of the water is present

  • Do not use the water for drinking, bathing or showering

  • Do not allow children, pets or livestock to drink or swim in the water.

  • Do not boil the water or treat it with a disinfectant, as this will release more toxins into the water

  • Eating fish caught in water where cyanobacterial blooms occur is not recommended.

Chautauqua County (NY) have once again been warned about the possible presence of cyanobacterial blooms in their lakes. For more information about blue-green algae, please go to the DHHS website at The web site also contains information about bathing beach closures for public beaches in Chautauqua County.  See also this link for background information

Anyone recall the sea of algae off China at the time of the Olympics?  Well, its back again! (see Photo).


Algae being collected on a Chinese beach

Algae being collected on a Chinese beach

Droplets readers will well aware of the role that too much phosphorus plays in unbalanced, eutrophic waterbodies.  There is a new book out on the topic, entitled Phosphorus, Food and Our Future.  I have not seen a copy up close so cannot comment critically – but bear in mind that many American scientists have not experienced the levels of eutrophication that we deal with daily in Africa and that occur commonly in the developing world! ( I remain optimistic though and will comment again once I have read it!).

Here’s an extract from the press blurb:

As an integral ingredient in fertilizer, phosphorus enables high-yield agriculture and sustains life. Yet phosphate fertilizer is produced by mining non-renewable deposits located in just a few countries. And the same element that enables crops to flourish in industrialized countries can also pollute waterways from run-off and create algae blooms that collapse and kill fish.

Phosphorus has spurred much concern among scientists due to erratic and rising prices, with some predictions pointing to scarcity bottlenecks as early as 2034. Approximately 90 percent of the element is mined in Morocco and Western Sahara, China, South Africa, Jordan and the United States.

“Phosphorus is a classic double-edged sword. If there isn’t enough on our crops, they fail and if there is too much in our lakes, they fail. So there are big challenges such as how to keep the phosphorus where it belongs and how to make sure we have enough phosphorus for the long term,” said ASU Regents’ Professor and phosphorus scientist James Elser.

It is available from Amazon.

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