Posted by: Vicki Burns | April 10, 2014

Blue-green Algae Warnings from Long Island, Another Indicator of this Growing Threat

I just came across this article about the extent of harmful algae blooms in almost every water body on Long Island last summer. Dr. Chris Gobler, from Stonybrook South Hampton, was giving a lecture on the deteriorating state of waterways in that area and it caught my attention because there are so many similarities to what is going on here in Manitoba with Lake Winnipeg and other lakes suffering under a growing algal load.

Algae on Long Island waterway

Algae in Marratooka Pond, Long Island, photo courtesy of the East End Beacon

There is one major difference though and that is the focus on nitrogen in the Long Island area versus our focus on phosphorus here on the Prairies. I understand that nitrogen is more of the problem element in areas where saltwater is involved while our focus for freshwater lakes is on limiting phosphorus. However the similarities are very strong regarding where the problems are emanating from – according to Dr. Gobler – human wastewater and agricultural fertilizer.
It reinforces my belief that throughout North America we need to adopt much more effective wastewater treatment systems and BMPs (best management practices) in agriculture. The longer we wait, the more it will cost in the end both economically and environmentally.

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Responses

  1. I agree, it would be the addition of human wastewater and agricultural fertilizer! Both would contribute to that problem. We managed to find all of our solutions in the plants we planted in and around the lakes (ie alders and berry bushes to create shade, which controls some of the blue-green algae) and various plants that aerated and filtered the water within the edges of the lake. Another source could be unusual numbers of fish and/or birds and artificial food for trout farms – things like that can be really detrimental to natural balances.
    Pakki


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