Algae tests result in higher [water] bills

26 June 2014

The quality of drinking water supplies is becoming increasingly threatened by pollution (Photo: Bill Harding)

The quality of drinking water supplies is becoming increasingly threatened by pollution (Photo: Bill Harding)

PORT CLINTON — Ottawa County water customers are paying 4.5 percent more for their water this year, partly because of the cost of removing toxins caused by harmful algae. Blue-green algae that grows on Lake Erie in late summer and early fall can produce a toxin, called microcystin, that can cause gastrointestinal illness and skin irritations.  Normal water treatment processes don’t always remove the toxin from the finished drinking water, causing plants like Ottawa County’s to use additional chemicals, methods and testing to make sure the water coming from the tap is safe.

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Blue crabs affected by blue-green algae – and other stories

18 August 2013

Woman collecting mussels at low tide.  Photo: Bill Harding

Women collecting mussels at low tide. Photo: Bill Harding

An article from from Richmond (Virginia, USA) reports that the cyanobacterial liver toxin, microcystin, has been found in blue crabs near the mouth of the James River. According to the report, there is no cause for concern right now.  Fish, filter feeders and, it seems, crabs, can accumulate cyanobacterial toxins in their flesh.  Some years ago I was involved with a South African case where mussels, which formed an important component of the diet or income source for a poor community, were affected by an algal bloom in the lake upstream of the estuary. For interest I have included chromatograms from my analyses of two liver toxins, microcystin-LR and -YR in the algae and in the mussels.

Chromatograms showing accumulation of the cyanotoxins M-LR and M-YR in the flesh of marine mussels (Photo: Bill Harding)

Chromatograms showing accumulation of the cyanotoxins M-LR and M-YR in the flesh of marine mussels (Photo: Bill Harding)

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CyanoAlert

21 March 2011

The five-week algal bloom in Lake Bolac (Victoria, Oz) has dissipated, much to the relief of the local festival planners.  For Lake Winnipeg (Canada), algal blooms are predicted in the coming summer following floods during the wet season. Lake Eildon (Australia) is experiencing its second algal bloom of the current season.

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