Algae are aquatic organisms that will grow at a fast pace in a waterbody when they have the opportunity to feed on an overabundance of nutrients, such as phosphorus and nitrogen. An algae bloom can be unsightly, and there are some species that can produce dangerous toxins.
In response to the recent concern about algae blooms contaminating drinking water coming from the Lake Erie watershed, SOLitude Lake Management, an industry leader in lake and pond management, fisheries management and related environmental services for the Eastern United States, recommends the following proactive steps to prevent a eutrophic (nutrient-rich) environment and the contamination of a watershed and water supply from toxic and potentially dangerous algae blooms:
• Reduce the nutrient load entering the watershed. This can be accomplished in several ways. One method to reduce the phosphorus entering a watershed is to reduce the amount of fertilizer applied to lawns and farms. Fertilizer contains phosphorus and nitrogen that, with long-term or over fertilizing, can enter into the watershed through runoff and reach the saturated levels that produce algae blooms. Another way to reduce the phosphorus load entering a watershed is to maintain a healthy vegetative buffer at the edge of a waterbody. The vegetative buffer will help capture and utilize phosphorus or nitrogen before it enters the water.
• Reduce the phosphorus load already in a watershed. If the phosphorus load is determined through water testing to be at a level where a widespread algae bloom could occur, the phosphorus in the waterbody can be reduced with the use of a naturally occurring element with a high affinity to permanently lock available phosphorus, and therefore reduce its availability for algae production.
• Balance the nutrient ratios between all important nutrients. While it is important to reduce nutrient load or remove excess phosphorus from a waterbody, it is also as important to balance the ratios of additionally important nutrients that can play a role in an algae bloom: nitrogen, carbon, and silicon. After testing water quality and determining which nutrients are out of balance, there are several strategies available for balancing the nutrient levels in a waterbody that may include aeration, biological controls, improved cultural practices, the use of natural binding agents that sequester the nutrient from the water column and sediments, and possibly dredging.
“What all landowners, from homeowners to farmers, need to understand is that every foreign substance they introduce to their environment can end up in our watershed and our water supply if not properly managed,” said Shannon Junior, Aquatic Ecologist with SOLitude Lake Management. “This can happen in any part of the country, not only in the watershed of Lake Erie.” She noted that the effects of poor nutrient management can be remediated, but a long-term nutrient management plan with water quality monitoring is the most effective method for preventing widespread and dangerous algae blooms such as the one that has been seen in Ohio.
Contact the experts at 888-480-LAKE (5253) for all of your lake, pond and fisheries management needs.
Since 1998, SOLitude Lake Management has been committed to providing full service lake and pond management services that improve water quality, preserve natural resources, and reduce our environmental footprint. Our services include lake, pond and fisheries management programs, algae and aquatic weed control, installation of fountains and aeration systems, water quality testing and restoration, bathymetry, lake vegetation studies, habitat assessments and nuisance wildlife management. We are the second largest distributor of AquaMaster fountains and aerators internationally and in the U.S. Lake and pond management services are available throughout the Eastern United States. Fisheries management consulting and aquatic products are available nationwide. Learn more about SOLitude Lake Management and purchase products at www.solitudelakemanagement.com.