Lake neglect and lake abuse…

17 July 2013

Jordan Lake in North Carolina has not received the care and attention that was afforded to it via legislative decree (plus the responsible authority is trying to have the legislation repealed.  This type of wilful neglect is, regrettably, globally common as politicians continue to duck and dive around doing whats right so that they can suck up to Big Business (see below).

In other news, a short-sighted idea to dose Newton Lake in Philadelphia with a copper-sulphate chemical has raised some suspicions amongst local residents.  And so it should, its a stupid idea.  The reports are a bit confusing as they mention use of a pesticide, whereas I am pretty sure they mean herbicide.  Anywho, they should do more research and find out why the use of copper-containing herbicides are banned for aquatic application in many countries. Read more »

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. Read more »

A ‘reactive’ mandate for wetland ‘protection’ ? Really ?

14 July 2013

This wetland will need to be damaged before it can be saved (Photo: Bill Harding)

This wetland will need to be damaged before it can be saved (Photo: Bill Harding, agents details deleted)

Oddly, the mandate of the South African Department of the Environment – insofar as wetland protection is concerned, is reactive.  This means that a wetland has to be in the process of being damaged (= commencement of an illegal activity) before action can be taken!  Strange, senseless, but true!

I recently brought the case of a plot that is up for sale – and which is 100% wetland, part of a much larger system already intersected by a road and associated urban development – to the attention of the responsible authority, with the response that nothing can be done.  Perhaps there is an existing Record of Decision that has allowed the wetland to be lost, but I doubt it.  The wetland in question is at the head of a small streamline that feeds into an ecologically-important fish sanctuary system.  Although passing through a country village, the streamline and the wetland nodes along it support a variety of wildlife. Read more »

International conference on toxic algae to be held in South Africa

14 July 2013

(Photo: Bill Harding)

Toxic Anabaena solitaria bloom in a Cape Town reservoir (Photo: Bill Harding)

The ninth meeting of the International Conference on Toxic Cyanobacteria (ICTC9) will be held at Pilanesberg, South Africa, during August 2013.

Dr Bill Harding, active in the field of toxic algae since 1990, will deliver the opening plenary address and will summarize South Africa’s experiences and achievements – events spanning almost a century.  Bill’s participation at this meeting has been made possible by a sponsorship provided by Abraxis USA, a leading firm manufacturing a wide range of test kits, including for cyanobacterial toxins.

Algal summer on the way in the USA

14 July 2013

North Carolina’s Jordan Lake is the subject of some algal-related controversy as blue-green algal blooms threaten the beneficial uses of this rather attractive waterbody.  There seem to be all sorts of end of pipe solutions being sought, rather than dealing with the problem at source (the “living with eutrophication” scenario that I have discussed on previous occasions).  Amongst these have been the use of aerators which, reportedly, have not achieved anything at all:

Much has been made of installing numerous aerators in the lake itself as a means of controlling algal blooms and restoring the lake’s water quality. This has been based on the experience of Greenfield Lake in Wilmington, in which aerators were installed in 2005. The aerators have in fact increased dissolved oxygen levels in lake areas near the aerators. However, they have done nothing to reduce nutrient concentrations within the lake, and the number of algal blooms in Greenfield Lake has actually increased since the installation.

Artificial aeration or circulation using “new” technology will not lead to meeting the water quality criterion in Jordan Lake; this conclusion is based on the results of many studies involving in-lake aeration or circulation technology. Despite recent statements coming from NC DENR, the Jordan Rules are based on a plan that will meet the water quality standard, which is required for approval of the cleanup plan by NC DENR and the U.S. EPA.

Technology has a role to play in lake restoration; however, such technologies are best used to control and reduce nitrogen and phosphorus inputs on land before they reach the water. Once in the water, nutrients become extremely expensive to remove and disrupt the lake’s fish and wildlife communities.

Preventing pollution from getting into a lake is way better than trying to fix a polluted lake!  Unfortunately Jordan Lake is one of many, many cases where the need to deal with pollution is being wilfully avoided!

Jordan Lake is a major drinking water supply for the Research Triangle area and a heavily used recreational area. Over the years, inputs of nitrogen and phosphorus have led to large algal blooms that impair this waterway, causing the U.S. EPA to require North Carolina to devise a plan (called a TMDL – total maximum daily load) to reduce nutrient inputs. Over several years, a variety of stakeholders worked out a plan involving compromise that was signed by Gov. Bev Perdue.

However, the General Assembly is now considering delaying pollutant controls for three years and suggests that using as-yet unidentified technology within the lake proper can clean it up. The best and cheapest way to improve water quality is to keep the nutrients from entering the lake in the first place.

Stupid is as stupid does!

Read more »