Catawba, NC

Harmful Algal Blooms in North Carolina's Lakes and Ponds

The Hornet's Nest

CATAWBA, NC - A lot of Lakes and ponds in North Carolina are invested by Cyanobacteria algal blooms that can harm people, fish, and animals. It is recommended not to get into lakes or ponds that appear green.

The algal blooms growth is expected to continue due to the high temperatures and excess nutrients in North Carolina waters.

Excess nutrients from untreated waste water from farm, urban runoff can trigger the formation of the harmful algal blooms (HABs), especially in slow-moving or stagnant waters with warm temperatures. They can spoil drinking water supplies, reduce property value, and disturb recreational activities.

The thick green layer formed by the algal can reduce oxygen level in the water and ultimately kills fish. Moreover, they produce cynatoxins that can harm our kidneys, liver, and neurological system. Cynatoxins can still linger in the water even after the algal has gone. In 2019, two dogs were found dead near Wilmington, NC after being exposed to the cynatoxins.

The cost to treat HABs is expensive, especially when taking into consideration the additional health care cost.

HABs formation can be prevented by reducing the usage of fertilizer, better treatments and regulations of waste water from agricultural and industrial operations. North Carolina does not have adequate rules to enforce the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommendations to put in place a water quality criteria and health-advisory levels to preserve drinking water supplies, making communities prone to being exposed to cynatoxins.

HABs usually lasts only for a few days. Reporting the HABs to the state or local riverkeeper organizations is important to increase scientific data and frequency counts.

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