Posted by: Vicki Burns | May 16, 2010

What is Causing the Explosion of Toxic Blue-Green Algae Around the World ?

In our own back yards in Canada and around the world, there are massive blue-green algae blooms taking over many water bodies. The scientific term for it is eutrophication – an overload of nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus).This overload  feeds the growth of algal blooms, many of which are blue green cyanobacteria that contain toxins dangerous to humans and animals. The excessive algal blooms cause a depletion of oxygen when they die and this in turn negatively affects the fish and other aquatic life that depend on oxygen for their survival.

image of blue-green algae on beach at Lake Winnipeg

Blue-green Algae on Beach at Lake Winnipeg

I find it interesting to realize that the very things leading to this problem, on their own, are not a problem. Phosphorus and nitrogen are very important elements, in fact we all need them to survive. Humans, animals, plants, everything that grows needs phosphorus and nitrogen. The other side of this is that we humans and animals excrete phosphorus and nitrogen in our waste. The problem is very simply that there is too much phosphorus and nitrogen getting into our streams, rivers and lakes.

In the case of Lake Winnipeg, the overload of nutrients  is coming from millions of sources throughout the almost 1 million sq. km. of its watershed. All of us humans (6.5 million) that live in the watershed; all the animals –  livestock, pets and wildlife; chemical fertilizers; waste from industrial plants and natural runoff from the land, we’re all part of the problem. This is why we are all going to have to share the responsibility of changing our habits in order to decrease the nutrient load to the lake.

It’s a huge challenge to stop the excess of nutrients getting into our water but it is possible. Are you willing to be part of the solution rather than being part of the problem?

Image of man sitting on dock enjoying lake sunrise

Beautiful Lake Scene


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