Saturday, August 16, 2014

Blue-Green Algae Blooms

Lake Erie algae
Warmer summer temperatures and ongoing phosphorus loading from agricultural nutrient runoff has led to a disruptive frequency of blue-green algae blooms in freshwater lakes.

This summer a cyanobacterial bloom in Lake Erie left 400,000 people without drinking water for two days.

America the Beautiful

Oh Beautiful for smoggy skies, insecticided grain,
For strip-mined mountain's majesty above the asphalt plain.
America, America, man sheds his waste on thee,
And hides the pines with billboard signs, from sea to oily sea.
George Carlin

Water near Toledo intake
Photograph: Haraz N. Ghanbari/AP
Toxic Algae

The dominant organisms of the summer season algal blooms occurring in Lake Erie are microcystins.

Microcystis causes skin rashes. If ingested it causes vomiting and liver damage. Microcystis can be fatal if ingested by dogs or other animals.

Freshwater algae blooms create adverse conditions because they:
  • deplete the dissolved oxygen content of water;
  • contaminate drinking water making it impotable;
  • threaten commercial and recreational fisheries; and
  • degrade recreational swimming and fishing.

Algae bloom in the west end of Lake Erie
NASA’s Aqua satellite, 8/1/14.

We assume that everything's becoming more efficient, and in an immediate sense that's true; our lives are better in many ways. But that improvement has been gained through a massively inefficient use of natural resources.
Paul Hawken