How to eliminate cyanobacteria in lakes Guide, Building Design Tips, Online Advice

How to Eliminate Cyanobacteria in Lakes Guide

22 Mar 2021

Lakes are beautiful bodies of water that serve necessary roles in the ecosystem, as well as enable recreational services for the local community. Hence, it is important to keep lakes maintained and healthy or engage lakefront restoration companies like Karina Lakefront Maintenance when needed. While lakes are home to many fauna and flora, they are also home to microorganisms that contribute to the lake in one way or another.

However, there are a group of microorganisms to look out for. These are cyanobacteria.

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Harmful Algal Blooms

Typically, cyanobacteria are not dangerous. They are only dangerous when they rapidly increase their populations and form harmful algal blooms (HABs) – a biological phenomenon that occurs when the lake receives a large amount of nutrients that feed this population increase.

Common causes of this increased nutrition (eutrophication) is when agrochemicals from farmlands or gardens runoff to the lake, bringing various nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus in high amounts. Feeding on these large amounts of nutrients, the cyanobacteria rapidly multiply which then cause several effects.

First, harmful algal blooms are dangerous to the lake, its inhabitants, and nearby life as these blooms can be toxic. Cyanobacteria can produce dangerous toxins that are significantly more harmful as they occur in large quantities. These blooms kill fishes and other wildlife in the lake, and subsequently kill land animals that happen to ingest these dead fishes and wildlife.

Second, harmful algal blooms spread wide across the lake, blocking off the sun. Without sufficient sunlight shining through the water, the plants and phytoplankton in the water can die off. Without these primary producers, animals that depend on them can also starve.

Third, harmful algal blooms take away much of the oxygen present in the lake. When these microorganisms die off, their decomposition further takes up oxygen, thus causing hypoxic dead zones – areas totally devoid of oxygen. Without oxygen, life in the lake is suffocated.

Lastly, harmful algal blooms are detrimental to the human community nearby for a few reasons. Businesses and residences nearby the lake will get affected as the infected lake will begin to produce unpleasant smells. The water from the lake also becomes dangerous to drink, making harmful algal blooms especially dangerous when people rely on the lake for fresh water.

How to Eliminate Cyanobacteria in Lakes

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent and treat harmful algal blooms with proper lake management. Here are some ways to do so:

Active Monitoring

Harmful algal blooms do not occur instantly out of nowhere. They are biological events that can be detected or presumed to happen with active monitoring. A few signs that lake managers can look out for include: fish kills, surface discoloration, and thick accumulations in the shoreline. Once these signs are observed, the water can be sampled and brought to a lab for confirmation of the presence of these cyanobacteria.

Active monitoring can occur periodically throughout the year, but there are times of the year that are more likely for these harmful algal blooms to occur. As photosynthetic microorganisms, cyanobacteria prefer high temperatures and sunlight to grow rapidly. Thus, active monitoring can be more frequent during spring and summer.

Runoff Control

While active monitoring will help detect the occurrence of harmful algal blooms the soonest, there are other ways people can do to help prevent harmful algal blooms from occurring in the first place. One major way to help prevent these is to control runoffs.

Runoffs are basically the water that flows through the land that ends up in bodies of water such as lakes. While runoffs are typically harmless, runoffs can become dangerous depending on where they flow through because they will tend to carry chemicals and debris they pick up along the way.

An important portion of runoff that should be controlled is runoff that comes from agricultural lands and gardens. Preferably, none of the lands that surround lakes should be used for commercial planting as these lands are then subjected to a large amount of agrochemicals (e.g., fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides, etc.).

These chemicals often contain substances that are needed by cyanobacteria to flourish such as nitrogen and phosphorus. When rain comes and washes over these lands, the water can then run off to lakes, thus introducing these chemicals into the lake and potentially starting a harmful algal bloom.

Agricultural land does not only mean land used for crops because lands that have livestock can also be a source for abundant nutrients for cyanobacteria. Animal feeds, and even manure, contains high amounts of nutrients that can also be a source of harmful algal blooms when carried to lakes through runoffs.

Active Elimination

Even when preventive measures are followed, harmful algal blooms can still occur one way or another. During these events, the standard protocol followed is to simply close off the lake and put up signs and alerts that indicate that the lake is currently undergoing harmful algal blooms. Then the lake managers wait for these blooms to subside before opening the lake once more.

However, there are companies and services that specifically focus on actively eliminating and preventing harmful algal blooms. There are companies that specialize in cleaning lakes and reservoirs. They use different forms of technology and methods to actively keep the levels of phosphorus and nitrogen low and oxygen levels up.

By actively maintaining certain chemical properties, they make sure that harmful algal blooms do not occur. These companies also monitor the cyanobacterial populations in the lakes to make sure they do not grow out of hand. With services such as theirs, harmful algal blooms can be controlled.

How to Eliminate Cyanobacteria in Lakes Conclusion

Harmful algal blooms caused by cyanobacteria are not only dangerous to the lakes themselves but are also dangerous to the community around it, both people and wildlife alike. Fortunately, there are steps that people and lake managers can take to prevent these blooms from happening – or at least lessen their occurrences.

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