IA presents … what to expect for Spring 2017.

It is a lock that places all across the USA and beyond will in 2017 once again be dealing with the harsh effects of Harmful Algae Blooms (HAB). But, with the many distractions available to the masses at any point in time — be they of sustenance or recreation — it is likely that only the minority of people in the throes of clean water pollution will be taking serious note.

Such will be the case in Iowa, where farm runoff provides very real problems for residents in and around the State’s largest city: Des Moines.

Interesting challenges in Iowa reflect those elsewhere:

IOWA: The Des Moines Water Works suit cites data collected by the Iowa Nutrient Research Center – established by the Iowa Legislature in 2013 – that indicates 92 percent of nitrates and 80 percent of phosphorus entering Iowa streams originates from farms.

HAB in Iowa Lake

USA: A 2013 Livescience report indicated that 59 percent of monitored U.S. waterways were contaminated to the point that these waterways were not safe for recreation, drinking or for consumption of their fish. Two decades earlier 36 percent of the monitored waterways were deemed contaminated.

In a June 2016 Des Moines Register article by Bret Lorenzen, the Director of Midwest Outreach for the Environmental Working Group argues for a level of accountability from agriculture that in eighty years has not been held.

And so it goes. Agriculture given parameters seemingly too wide for responsible land management. Communities who rely on fresh water for recreation and, more importantly, drinking water, continuing to suffer. Fingers pointed. Studies done. Leadership inaction. Political push-back.

If weather holds true to form, in Iowa 2017 will be a year to watch. Any progress in reducing HABs there will be huge … and surprising. The same might be said for at-risk areas throughout the USA.

Blue-green algae – the bad … and good.

Blue-green algae are, by a general definition, also known as Harmful Algae Blooms (HAB). The planet is getting more HAB activity every year, according to science reports from across the globe – as illustrated in commentaries from the USA and China.

Nobody is arguing that these blooms are toxic. Disastrous, even, when areas such as Florida’s Gold Coast are affected.

HAB in China's Yellow Sea
HAB in China’s Yellow Sea

HABs, everywhere, need to be reduced and where possible eliminated. But, in many cases, HABs can and will occur every year.

Thankfully, HABs do hold some value.

To the human body, potentially in the form of health supplements and as a protein.

For fertilizer in agriculture.

As an alternative source for clean energy, according to information provided by the Soil and Water Conservation Society of Metro Halifax.

” … the utilization of blue-greens in food production and in solar energy conversion may hold immense potential for the future, and could be exploited for man’s economy.”

One can only hope that the initiatives to aggressively harvest HABs swiftly take hold. Left unchecked, and unused for any socioeconomic gain, HABs are more than a nuisance. They are a threat to the food chain on which, ironically, algae are the very foundation.



Great Articles On HABs

A review of some terrific articles I have read over just the past few weeks, regarding Harmful Algae Blooms (HABs), is provided below. You will note that the HAB problems span the United States.

Here is hoping any of these offers greater insight into the issues and problems HABs create for the communities affected. If any articles grab you — please share with us your thoughts!


In the aftermath of Matthew … more water concerns.

Searching through articles post-Hurricane Matthew has yielded a host of concerns for the entire Eastern USA Seaboard – the area that was pummeled by the storm last week. Since much of what we have discussed regarding Harmful Algae Blooms (HABs) has focused on Southeast FL in general, and Lake Okeechobee (Lake O) in particular, let’s keep the conversation there for today.

And it is a messy matter, indeed.

Evergladeshub.com is a superb resource for all things Lake O and, truly, the issues facing Southeast Florida. As always, at the very foundation of HABs rests an overabundance of phosphorus.

And Lake O has way too much.

HAB in Southeast FL
HAB in Southeast FL

The question of what can be done is moot. That solution is multifaceted, time consuming and, most troublesome, costly. It involves several approaches, including better land management and sophisticated technology.

What will be done is this: to keep Lake O from flooding surrounding areas – which is always a distinct possibility, whenever the lake rises to 15 feet or so — nearly 2 billion gallons of water per day will be drained. With no set timetable for ending. It depends on how much rain continues to fall. And how dry the upcoming dry season of October, November and December really is.

All that said, for perspective, an area as large as roughly 1800 football fields, with 10′ deep water, would hold close to 2 billion gallons.

HABs in Southeast Florida will again make their presence known in 2017. And excessive phosphorus is the reason.