This Article is About
algae
algae bloom
sewage plants
direct solution
lake erie
manure
Algae Bloom Revisited
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Algae Bloom Revisited

I recently wrote an article about this subject and stated that not much was being done to identify and resolve the problem of algae bloom. Reader feedback caused me to dig a little deeper and low and behold there are a few people who actually have a clue what’s going on and have a plan to rectify the situation.

I forgot that there was a bad algae bloom in the 1970’s It was not as widespread as last years but bad enough. That time once the farmers and municipalities realized they were part of the problem they took action. The result was very little algae after just a couple years. Hopefully those two entities will do the same this time.

The solution for the farmers this time is more complicated. The runoff from fields that have been fertilized or had manure spread on them contains phosphorous which feeds the algae. The solution sounds simple but it isn’t. The amount of fertilizer used hasn’t changed significantly but farming has. In recent years farmers have turned more and more to drainage tile to get rid of unwanted water from their fields. Most of this tile runoff which contains high levels of phosphorous feeds into the surrounding streams which eventually ends up in Lake Erie.

The debate centers around limiting the use of fertilizers which doesn’t seem very practical to me. The good news is real action is being taken. Even though it’s still in the talking stage the people who can fix the problem are actively involved. Some state officials are talking about stringent regulations. My fear there would be that they would go overboard and really complicate things for the farmers. I think getting the fertilizer manufacturers involved would be the place to start. If they think fertilizer use is going to be restricted they will come up with solutions.

The overflow from the municipalities is a problem that has a more direct solution. During periods of peak rainfall the story is that the sewage plants can’t handle all the water therefore they release the overflow of raw sewage into Lake Erie. What confuses me is I thought the storm runoff was separate from the sanitary sewers so why should that be a problem. Do we still have a lot of building runoff dumping into the sanitary system? If we do it’s time to rectify that problem. Hopefully someone can explain what is really going on here.

If we have a spring and summer with a lot of rain the algae problem will be severe this year also. The good news is something is being done about the problem. Hopefully everyone involved understands how serious the problem is and will make an honest effort to resolve it.


Street Talk

Thanks for the follow up article John

Reply
  about 8 years ago

Thanks for the comment. Yes geese are a huge problem in the community where I live. We are working towards eradicating them but it is very hard with all the laws protecting them.

Reply
  about 8 years ago

Hello John...Just to add to other causes of this horrific problem, birds we have way to manythey keep building nesting places for them and the geese feces is monumental and more of it goes into the water every year, plus our runoff, we seem to be doing to it ourselfs around here...we are creating the storm...and it is goiing to ruin more of our water...the park has been open for years every year no swimming...geese feces everywhere plus the two or three other breeds of birds...it will never get better here...birds feces is the problem and we get more year after year.....thats my take.... Tim

Reply
  about 8 years ago

John, as a semi retired green keeper on golf courses I can firstly sympathise with the farmer who is trying to make his crop as profitable as possible and plant health is paramount to achieve this. Secondly I sympathise with the local authorities that have to keep the water quality good. On golf course greens the most important good quality grass is jeopardised by high rainfall. The tendency today is to use slow release fertilisers for longer coverage and if these are of a polymer bound type that require a certain heat level before they release, it is a major problem. Sometimes before the required heat units are attained high precipitation is experienced and the fertiliser is merely washed away down into water reservoirs where at some stage they will dissolve into the water causing the elevated levels of phosphorous, potassium and nitrogen that alga enjoys. On courses a liquid iron is used to prevent alga, but it is not practical to do this in dams or river courses. Our government has become stricter on environmental laws and water pollution, and farmers and golf courses have had to change and become more "Green" to avoid such problems. It is unfortunately not always possible to completely stop pollutants from farms reaching water storage areas, and a happy medium of production to pollutants must be met. What has been found on courses, is catchment areas for run-off before entry into dams. These require aerators or any method of causing aeration so that chemicals can evaporate into the atmosphere where they are not a pollutant. It is a major problem and solutions are available, I would love to be able to see the problem areas as I have solved this same problem on a smaller scale in a few places. Consulting on these type problems are one of my income producers.

Reply
  about 8 years ago

Rob, Thanks for a very informative comment. I am seeing daily articles about the problem so it is getting some attention. I haven't seen many ideas to fix the problem but catch basins seems a reasonable and low cost solution.

Reply
  about 8 years ago

John, What is drainage tile? I know it sounds grotesque to have sewers going into lakes (and rivers) but sometimes they don't have a choice. I visited a sewage place once and got a tour with explanations. When it rains after a dry spell, the ground does not absorb it. Then the water runs all over, eventually reaching the street level grates. It's been a while since I toured that place. Since then I've noticed many parts of the country have started posting not to dump there because it drains to streams! blessings, CYnthia

Reply
  about 8 years ago

Cynthia, I can only tell you how the system works here. The storm sewers do run to the Lake (Lake Erie) and the sanitary sewers go to the filtration plant so they are separate systems. Years ago a lot of downspouts were tied into the sanitary system which caused that system to be overloaded during heavy rainfall. I thought that problem had been corrected but maybe not

Reply
  about 8 years ago

Oh! Thanks.

  
  about 8 years ago
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