Out of curiosity, mostly, I decided to start searching on counties by-state, to see which were contending with algae bloom issues in lakes. After several searches, I found that none were free of problems. All cited a combination of industrial, residential, and agricultural runoff as the contributors to the problem.
Dredging, fish killing to remove Carp, large-scale landscaping, tributary protection, private and public funding, a network of committed area residents and municipalities sworn to maintain responsible land-use practices, and “watch dog” measures to help ensure compliance, have been applied over three decades to restore to life a lake that was once considered an area blight.
True, countless hours of effort, planning, and millions of dollars have been invested in the restoration. It has been a huge undertaking, to say the least.
But what a return.
It is estimated that over 800 jobs are created annually as a result of the cleanup. Property values on and around the lake have risen a remarkable $99 million, and the local economic contribution is projected at $77 million.
Clean water is an asset that cannot be diminished by any measure, in any place. Of this, Lake Delavan is surely an example.
Sitting in Port Washington, WI, overlooking the port which empties into a beautiful blue Lake Michigan, the suggestion of an appearance of algae blooms gains little interest. Lake Michigan is deep and cold. Port Washington provides an adequate sewage system, and the relatively small amount of nearby farms only contributes what appears to be a manageable level of damaging nutrients.
In an outstanding report by the National Wildlife Foundation (NWF), Tainter’s plight is well-documented. And is held up as an example of what, increasingly, is becoming a not-so-unusual occurrence across not just the Great Lakes Regi
on and the area’s inland lakes, but throughout the USA.
The NWF identifies three issues that must be addressed, to better combat America’s algae bloom crisis:
1. No federal agency currently tracks lake closures or health warnings nationally.
2. Few economic studies have assessed the national cost of freshwater HABs.
3. Not all states monitor or report the presence of algae-related toxins in freshwaters.
ToxicAlgaeNews, a superb online publication provided by non-profit publisher Resource Media, has stepped up to help cover bloom outbreaks by-state.
So far, the improved research and tracking has not helped Tainter Lake. But with progress being made, perhaps the time will come.
To date, Clean Water Warrior (CWW) has largely discussed issues with toxic algae blooms and dead zones in the Great Lakes region. Farm runoff, for which it is the mission of CWW to reduce, and its catastrophic impact on freshwater, has been the subject of most CWW blogging.
But this is not to say that algae blooms are limited to the Great Lakes area, or freshwater. In fact, Alaska, Washington State, Oregon and, of course, the Western Coast of Canada are all struggling with the challenges of unusually warm ocean water becoming infested with algae.
In this report on a crab season in crisis, from the Weather Channel, we see that ocean saltwater, too, is not impervious to the damaging effects of algae. Solutions to the problems blooms create for the crab fishing industry are not clear — or even possible, for that matter, given that the blooms may be the result of warmer waters resulting from climate change.
Already, NOAA offers some OFS capabilities, the complete list of which appears via this link, but HAB monitoring is not yet a part.
Look for that to change and, though the HAB monitoring may have limited impact in area that already does a good job of monitoring bacteria levels such as E.coli (see: Wisconsin Beach Health), the extra involvement from NOAA certainly underscores the tremendously negative impact HAB have in freshwater and saltwater ecosystems alike.