Sunday, August 19, 2012

Blue-Green Algae in Alberta Lakes - "We Are Over Fertilizing Our Lakes"

from cbc edmonton am with rick harp - 07/26/2012

university of alberta professor of ecology dr. david schindler says nutrients are going up in alberta lakes. there is 2 to 3 times more phosphorus present than 100 years ago due to human activity that includes pastures and feedlots, lakeshore development, and human sewage.

there are much stricter controls in europe where phosphorus levels have been reduced by cutting back on pastures and animal feedlots, and by putting restrictions on the kinds of development that you can do surrounding lakeshores.

will appropriate steps be taken in alberta? dr. schindler says, as long as "weak willed municipalities looking for tax grabs and developers looking to make money discount these problems and go ahead and develop, our lakes will continue to look like green paint". but then in a province where the cattle industry reigns supreme, and where the most ecologically destructive project on the planet, the tar sands, continues to rip up the boreal forest, pollute the air and poison river systems, what do you expect?

if there's money to made destroying our environment, alberta will be at the front of the line collecting the cheque.

even if this province did implement measures to alleviate the problem of over-fertilized lakes caused by human activity, it would take some 30-40 years for lakes to recover.

here is an article from the edmonton sun dated july 23, 2012 entitled, Scientist warns Pigeon Lake problems will continue.

i just love the last line. here is the piece:
A University of Alberta scientist says problems at Pigeon Lake will continue to worsen if development in the area grows — this after a slew of dead fish washed up on the sand along Ma-Me-O Beach Sunday.

Lake residents said Sunday that "thousands" of fish had washed up on shore, which they were concerned could turn visitors away.

While not uncommon, it is alarming, says David Schindler, a renowned University of Alberta water doc.

Schindler says warm temperatures raises the temperature of shallow bodies of water, like Pigeon Lake.

White fish are particularly susceptible to the warmer temperatures, because they are a cool-water species that are unable to adjust to the warmer water.

They get squeezed between temperatures above, and low oxygen below, Schindler said.

"It's a problem that is getting worse on Pigeon and other lakes around here because with more development, there are more algae blooms, and then more algae going to the bottom to decompose, and therefore less oxygen," he said.

"The zone that they occupy between the thermocline and the oxygen gets smaller and smaller."

Harriet Shugarman was looking forward to soaking up the sand and surf of Pigeon Lake at Ma-Me-O Beach like she did as a child growing up in the area.

Instead, the New Jersey resident joined a small brigade of volunteers armed with pitch forks and shovels to help remove what some say thousands of dead, rotting fish, which have washed ashore at the popular beach area, west of Wetaskiwin.

"I grew up in Edmonton, and live in New Jersey, and I'd come and spend my summers out at Pigeon Lake cause I love Pigeon Lake," said Shugarman taking a break from manning a pitch fork.

"And I want my children to experience how wonderful Ma-Me-O (Beach) and Pigeon Lake is."

Shugarman said her mother, who is in her 70s, said the fish kills have been happening on this kind of scale only during the past few years.

"There has to be some relation to something that is happening."

"Whether it's our warming climate combined with what we are doing with sewage and nitrogen from runoff from the shores."

The province said they had sent researchers out to the lake to investigate, but said the higher temperatures are likely the root of the kill.

David Ealey, with Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, also agreed that nutrients coming in from surrounding cabins and agricultural activities could have played a role.

But he stopped short of saying surrounding developments were to blame.

Schindler says the likelihood of the problem worsening over time is "almost inevitable."

"(They need to) stop developing the lake shore. But no one is willing to do that," he said.

"So they're going to have lakes like green paint and dead fish in the summer."

The province says because the fish died of a natural occurrence, it's up to beach residents to clean it up.
wow! natural occurrence eh? this is precisely the excuse the province uses for toxins in the air and water surrounding the tar sands. unbelievable!

it should also be noted that the leader of the popular right-wing wildrose party in alberta, danielle smith, is a climate change denier. she is just an example of the kind of scientific savvy we're getting from our political representatives here, who are nothing more than puppets and mouthpieces for big oil and the meat and dairy industry.

1 comment:

  1. I read the article about pigeon lake in the wetaskiwin times, and when I saw that sentence about the fish dying of "natural causes" it made me want to puke.
    I can't count how many times I've heard that the algae and fish kills in the lake are normal and that people shouldn't be worried that the lake has been too polluted to swim in properly for years.