Page 18 - Southen Exposure - August '22
P. 18

Page 18, Southern Exposure

                                                              nortHern notes

                                          Algae In The Waterways And

                                   How You Can Minimize Its Growth

                                   By Katie Roundtree, Director of Finance and Administration, Northern Palm Beach County Improvement District

        The term “algae” is                             and characteristics of                             feeding nutrients, especially phosphorus, that make it into the
      generally used to refer to a                      the particular body                                water. Here are some tips to keep your lake in tip-top shape.
      wide variety of different and                     of water. Blooms                                   Be Careful With Fertilizer
      dissimilar photosynthetic                         generally occur                                      Sure, you want a nice green lawn and healthy plants – but
      organisms,  generally                             where there are high                               that fertilizer you spread in your garden also encourages algae to
      microscopic. Depending on                         levels of nutrients                                bloom. It’s best to avoid fertilizer altogether if you’re close to a
      the species, algae can inhabit                    present, together                                  water source – plant native plants instead, which are well-adapted
      fresh or salt water. In modern                    with the occurrence                                to the environment and don’t require special maintenance.
      taxonomic systems, algae are                      of warm, sunny, calm                               Implement landscaping strategies, like xeriscaping, that increase
      usually assigned to one of six                    conditions. However,                               groundwater filtration before water enters the pond or lake.

      divisions. The misnamed blue-                     human activity often can trigger or accelerate algal blooms.     If you must fertilize, try and find a phosphorus-free product,
      green algae are often grouped                     Natural sources of nutrients such as phosphorus or nitrogen   and reduce nutrient rich runoff by applying it when there’s no
      with algae because of the chloroplasts contained within the cells.   compounds can be supplemented by a variety of human activities.   rain in the forecast.
      However, these organisms are actually photosynthetic bacteria   For example, in rural areas, agricultural runoff from fields can     And don’t think natural fertilizer like manure or compost is

      assigned to the group cyanobacteria.              wash fertilizers into the water. In urban areas, nutrient sources   any better than a chemical version, anything that’s going to make
        Fresh-water algae, also called phytoplankton, vary in shape   can cause stormwater runoff that carries pollutants such as lawn   your garden plants grow is going to make algae grow as well,
      and color, and are found in a large range of habitats, such as ponds,   fertilizers.                 it’s best to avoid fertilizers generally.
      lakes, reservoirs, and streams. They are a natural and essential     Algae growth depends on weather patterns, temperature,   Properly Dispose Of Organic Materials
      part of the ecosystem. In these habitats, the phytoplankton are   and nutrients in the water. While blooms happen naturally,     Following yard work, leaves, grass and other debris should
      the base of the aquatic food chain. Small fresh-water crustaceans   an imbalance of phosphorus and nitrogen, in particular, can   be bagged and removed from the property to prevent them from

      and other small animals consume the phytoplankton and in turn   accelerate an algal bloom’s growth significantly. Pollutants from   accumulating and decaying in the waterbody. When organic
      are consumed by larger animals.                   construction runoff, fertilized yards and golf courses, road wash,   materials are allowed to decompose in freshwater resources,
        Under certain conditions, several species of true algae as well   stormwater runoff, pet waste, and decomposing leaves, grass   they release undesirable nutrients that are responsible for fueling
      as the cyanobacteria are capable of causing various nuisance   clippings, and other organic materials also contribute to nutrient   nuisance plant and algae growth. Ask your lawn care company
      effects in fresh water, such as excessive accumulations of foams,   imbalances in the water.         to remove grass clippings and leaves to prevent decomposition
      scums, and discoloration of the water. When the numbers of     Higher temperatures and increased sunlight in summer months   in or around ponds and lakes.
      algae in a lake or a river increase explosively, an algal “bloom”   also can encourage algae blooms, as does standing water, which     Pick up and dispose of pet waste, a common source of excess
      is the result. Lakes, ponds, and slow-moving canals are most   is warmer than circulating water and can act like an incubator –   nutrients and bacteria. Don’t throw pet waste bags into lakes and

      susceptible to blooms.                            another significant influence.                     canals. They will eventually break down and release those toxins
        Algal blooms are natural occurrences, and may occur with     Algae doesn’t necessarily mean poor water quality, but it can   into the waterway.
      regularity (e.g., every summer), depending on weather and water   be a problem. So, what’s the key to reducing algae on your lake?     NPDES t ip: Do not burn any trash in your yards, and don’t
      conditions. The likelihood of a bloom depends on local conditions   The most effective thing to do is reduce the number of algae-  dump any debris into lakes and canals.

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